A groundbreaking ceremony by children symbolized Tuesday that work is ramping up on the construction of the new Montreal Children's Hospital.

After almost 20 years of discussions, the $1.4 billion public-private project is set to complete construction in 2014, when it will be considered one of the most modern pediatric institutions in North America.

The new hospital, being built on the Glen Yards in Notre Dame de Grace along with the rest of the McGill University Health Centre, will be connected to the new Shriners Hospital on one side and the new obstetrics unit of the new Royal Victoria Hospital on the other.

"Any mother that gives birth to a child where there is a complication, you have a direct access to the Montreal Children's Hospital, so if there is surgery to be performed on the newborn, there is access right there," said Louise Dery-Goldberg, president of the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation.

The hospital will be equipped with 154 beds, 12 immuno-compromised units and seven operating rooms.

Worried parents will not have to resort to sleeping on chairs, said Dr. Harvey Guyda of the Montreal Children's Hospital.

"Each room has a facility for a parent to live in if they choose to. We don't have that capability now and that's just something you need in a modern era," he explained.

Dr. Arthur Porter, CEO of the MUHC was optimistic Tuesday about the progress on the new hospital.

"It's very difficult when you're putting together something that's going to be a $1.4-billion project that's really going to change the scope of medicine," he said.

"It's very, very complicated to put it all together, but it's done."