The public yesterday got its first look inside the new $47 million Sonora Regional Medical Center.

More than 1,000 people showed up for an open house, which featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the Greenley Road complex.

The medical center, which will replace Sonora Community Hospital, opens to patients Wednesday.

Curious foothills residents explored the three-story medical center for several hours, chatting with staff and checking out the new rooms and equipment.

"I can't believe the surgical suites," said Doug Cross, who drove from Groveland with his wife, Dee. "That is state of the art."

Standing just outside the intensive care unit, Dee Cross said she was impressed with how clean and comfortable the new hospital is.

"It is certainly something we have needed for a long time," she said.

For many hospital staff members, who have worked for almost two years to prepare for the move, the open house was a day for celebration.

"It has been overwhelming," said Lynn Gates, a nursing administrator who is also serving as the hospital's relocation coordinator. "I'm very proud."

Gates paused for a moment to hand out visitor guides to some of the people waiting for tours in a line that snaked around one side of the building.

"By the turnout here today, you can tell people are enthusiastic and curious about what we have to offer," she said.

Hundreds milled by the hospital's entrance waiting to get inside even before the dedication ceremony ended.

Before the tours began, several foothills officials, including Sonora Mayor Marlee Powell and Tuolumne County Supervisor Richard Pland, spoke at a ceremony.

"It is going to be a true asset to all the residents of Tuolumne County," Pland said.

State Assemblyman Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, also attended the open house.