Ukiah Valley Medical Center last week broke ground on a $41 million upgrade that will significantly expand its emergency department, improve its intensive-care unit and add a separate hospital support building.

The 68-bed hospital, operated by Roseville-based Adventist Health, will expand its emergency room from 12 current beds to 19 private beds, including two trauma bays and a rooftop helipad that will help the facility's efforts to advance its trauma designation from level 4 to level 3.

Earlier this year, Adventist Health announced it would double the scale and cost of the upgrade, which was initially pegged at $21 million, as a result of its decision to seek the trauma designation. The emergency department, which opened in 1978 and initially saw 8,000 patients a year, now sees approximately 25,000 patients per year, a number that officials anticipate will increase.

All told, the expansion and upgrade will add a total of 19,000 square feet, including improvements to the six-bed ICU, which will keep the same number of beds but will be converted to private rooms that are double the size, enabling family members to stay with patients, according to the hospital.

The expansion also includes a separate, 11,000-square-foot hospital support building -- the first phase of construction -- that will house the materials management, IT and administrative departments. A service corridor will be constructed to connect all three departments with the existing hospital campus.

The support building should be completed by August 2014, and the emergency department by January 2016. The ICU should be ready shortly thereafter, according to Allyne Brown, director of philanthropy at the hospital.

While Adventist Health is putting up $41 million to fund construction, the hospital is hoping to raise $4 million via a capital campaign for the project. So far, $3.1 million has been raised, including a sizable gift from the Thurston family.

"We are fortunate to have Adventist Health's support as we move forward in these uncertain economic times," said Marty Lombardi, a former Savings Bank of Mendocino vice president who is on the governing board of the capital campaign.

"We are also here to honor those who have contributed to the capital campaign to raise $4 million towards this project. The employees and physicians at UVMC led the way with community leaders also making substantial gifts to bring the campaign total to $3.1 million," Lombardi said.

The general contractor on the project is San Francisco-based Herrero Builders. The architect is San Francisco-based Jennings, Ackerly Architecture & Design.

Ukiah Valley Medical Center is part of Adventist Health's Northern California Network, which includes hospitals in St. Helena, Clearlake, Willits and Vallejo.