Published: Dec 17, 2012 1:13 PM EST
Updated: Dec 17, 2012 6:42 PM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Nearly three years after its groundbreaking, the new Lee County V.A. clinic in Cape Coral is seeing its first patients. Just a few hours ago, the center on Diplomat Parkway opened its doors.

The size difference between the new building and the old one in Fort Myers is not lost on the veterans visiting for care, but it's not just the expanded facilities that are getting positive feedback. It's also the expanded services. The facility boasts 220,000 square feet, and a staff of 400 greeted, a growth of nearly four times the facility on Winkler Avenue.

The $60 million center is expected to allow for care of more than 31,000 veterans, too. And the first guests say service is off to a great start.

"Everybody's going to be satisfied. Everyone I've run into has been such a pleasure to talk to and so helpful," said Gary Phreed, a veteran.

The services offered at the new location are the same as at the old center, with a few extras. That means fewer Southwest Florida patients will have to travel out of the area for certain specialized care.

"This facility is going to evolve into outpatient surgery, physical therapy and occupational therapy. It's going to expand imaging to CT, MRI, mammography for our female veterans," said Keith Neely, the V.A. Assistant Director.

Several weeks ago, we also told you about a transportation grant that will help install kiosks at the center. Those will sync up with LeeTran and allow those using public transportation to have real time access to bus routes.