KALISPELL, Mont. -

The emergency room facilities at Kalispell Regional Medical Center are slated to be upgraded. A $14 million expansion is planned and more half the money has already been raised.

Hospital officials say the ER is too crowded and there is not enough privacy for patients.

"Right now we spend so much of our time just trying to figure out where we can put one or more pieces of equipment," said Director of Emergency Services Mary Stubbs.

The reason for the expansion is simple. There are more patients today than back when the ER was built.

"We did a little bit of a renovation in 1991, took some offices and made them into exam rooms, which allowed us to see 13,000 patients a year," said Tagen Vine, president of the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation.

Vine tells the same story -- the ER is too busy and there is not enough room.

"But now 25 years later, we're seeing 23,000 patients or so a year in an emergency room that was really designed to seat 9,000 to 13,000 patients," said Vine.

He's hoping an upgrade will better serve the Flathead and the entire region. After all, patients come in from all around the area. For the first time, KRMC is asking for the public's help.

"What we're doing is we're going to the public and asking them to help us with $6 million to help us finish off a $14 million campaign," said Vine.

The total project is projected to cost $14 million. $8 million of that has already been raised. Once the project hits the $9 million mark, renovations can begin.

Officials hope the expansion can push the current ER's life to around 15 to 25 years before a new facility has to be built. They hope to have all money raised for the project by next summer.