If the wall ceremonially battered at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center Tuesday were a patient, it would be in critical condition.

Donning hard hats and safety glasses, various hospital administrators whacked the wall with gold-covered sledgehammers to kick off construction of the hospital's new intensive-care unit. The $2.1 million facility will be complete in about a year. Intermountain Health Care, which owns the hospital, provided the funds."There is definitely a need in this area for more critical-care beds," said Guy Thompson, a registered nurse who manages the ICU. The new unit will increase the number of beds from 24 to 32.

Intensive-care patients will benefit in several ways, officials said.

- Nurses will be closer to patients.

- Because there will be no open areas, infection-control problems will decrease.

- Private rooms will allow patients to get the rest and sleep they need.

- Patients can be electronically weighed and have X-rays taken without having to get out of bed.

Merrill Gappmayer, chairman of the hospital board, said the new ICU will be "as good or better than any facility available."

During construction, a temporary ICU will be set up near the pediatrics ward on the second floor of the south wing. Temporary coronary-care and intermediate-care units will be on the fifth floor of the tower.

Maps and volunteers throughout the hospital are available to guide people to the critical-care areas.