New VA clinic opens in Cape Coral
The brand new Veterans Administration Health Care Center, a 220,000-square-foot outpatient facility, opened its doors Monday after six years of planning and construction.
The facility replaces the outpatient hospital in Fort Myers, and will act as a medical hub for veterans in the region who previously had to travel to St. Petersburg for some of the more extensive services that will now be available in Cape Coral.
According to VA spokesman Jason Dangel, the center’s first day was a success. Dangel was not able to estimate the number of patients seen Monday but said that all veterans coming through the doors were enthusiastic.
“Patients have been coming in for appointments, but they’ve also been just hanging around,” Dangel said. “They’ve been sharing stories, enjoying each other’s company and the atmosphere.”
The VA purchased the land, a 30-acre parcel at the intersection of Diplomat Parkway and Corbett Road in Cape Coral, in 2006. A ground-breaking was held in January, 2010, for the $80 million facility, and after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 7, the doors were opened Monday. The facility is expected to serve more than 200,000 veterans in the region.
Keith Neeley, assistant director of the VA Bay Pines Health Care System, which oversees the new facility in Cape Coral, said the new facility’s opening will only affect the Fort Myers location, which is shutting down.
Neeley said the new facility is fully operational, but plans call for bringing more “expanded services” on line early next year.
Advanced imaging and X-rays, occupational and physical therapy, and added outpatient surgery services are but a few of the expanded services that veterans can expect to take advantage of, Neeley said.
Neeley added that it was important to recognize both the current and future needs of veterans, especially the mental health services, which will be of added importance to those who are returning home from the Middle East.
“We’re appropriately reacting to those needs,” Neeley said.
The facility is expected to employ 400 people when fully staffed, and Dangel said it is still looking to fill several key positions moving forward.
But the facility’s first day was a success, Dangel said, and the VA is looking forward to continually providing services to the local veteran population.
“There was a lot of smiling faces,” Dangel said.