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How long have you been in business?

I opened my OB/GYN clinic in 2004 and am a board certified OB/GYN. I started offering cosmetic medical services in 2007 at the request of my patients. I renovated this property over a two year period and then moved into our beautifully refurbished space in 2011.

What degrees do you hold and where were you trained?

I am a Wampus Cat and graduated from Leesville High School in 1991. From there, I completed my BS in Microbiology from LSU in Baton Rouge. I then lived in Shreveport for one year during graduate school working in a biology lab when I decided to go ahead and go to medical school. I obtained my MD from LSU in Shreveport. Finally, I specialized as an OB/GYN at UTMB in Galveston, Tx. I moved home to Leesville in 2004 and opened my clinic. 

Is this what you always wanted to do? If not, what was your original plan?

When I was 4 years old, my father was in college studying anatomy and he let me help him dissect his anatomy animal on our kitchen table. I have clear memories of thinking how interesting it was to see the inside of a living organism and to learn the function of each organ. He then went on to medical school and let me participate in his education as much as possible. For example, I would read his medical texts to him. He would recite biochemistry pathways to me. Later, when he opened his medical practice, he had his nurses teach me how to “help” in the clinic. So yes, I always knew that I would become a doctor.

My original plan was to be a pediatrician and specialize in pediatric infectious diseases. However, as a third year medical student, I had a really hard time handling crying children….. and crying parents. When I delivered my first baby during my L&D rotation, I literally danced in the hallway and new that I was going to be an OB/GYN.

What has been the scariest/most difficult thing for you as a business owner?

I opened my own business as a solo practitioner in a time of medicine where newly trained residents usually would join a big group within their specialty. That is the common practice because those new docs get mentored both in business and how to practice medicine “in the real world”. When I came back home to Leesville, I had no old, grey-haired person to “show me the ropes”. It was scary learning how to treat my patients in a rural, under-privileged area without all of the other specialist around to help. One night around midnight, I was called in by the ER MD for an ectopic pregnancy. Indeed the patient was hemorrhaging and very ill. When I took her to the OR, there were no other doctors around and I had a rude awakening that “I really was it, the only one between her life and death”. The next week of life here, got better. 

What do you like best about your job?

I absolutely love talking with my patients. If you have the pleasure of meeting one of my patients, I hope they would tell you that I sit down, I ask questions about their life, I ask how they feel and what can I do to help…..and I really mean it. I love practicing in a small town, really getting to know them. 

What new things are you going out of your way to learn and apply to your business?

I attend multiple conferences each year to stay current on the latest technology in both gynecology and cosmetic medicine. 

Do you have a goal for yourself and your business?

My goal is to offer the community services that they would ordinarily find in a much larger community. I renovated the building to emulate a modern, urban facility, while preserving our local history. I provide services that my colleagues offer in Houston, Atlanta and New Orleans. I don’t want our patients to waste money on gas when I can give them confidential, competent care here in CENLA. I push myself and my staff to think outside the box, and to be diligent in delivering quality, not quantity. Meanwhile, I try to stay grounded and humble. After all, it really is an honor for patients to trust me to care for their well-being. 

What sets your clinic apart from the others in town?

My clinic is a boutique experience. The entire environment exudes “SPA”. The smells and sounds are deliberate and for relaxation. I never wanted a “heard scheduling approach”. I have a set number of patient appointments for the day, and we do not double or triple book those slots. Again, I want to have time to visit with each patient. 

What services do you offer?

I offer all gynecologic services such as wellness exams, treatments for abnormal periods, ovarian cysts, urinary incontinence, UTI’s, STD’s, pelvic pain, acne, PMS, menopause, and birth control options. I perform gynecologic surgeries for many of these problems. Examples of those surgeries would be hysterectomies, tubal ligations, ovarian cyst removals, uterine endometrial ablations, etc. In the cosmetic spa, I personally offer laser hair removal, chemical peels, injections of Botox/Xeomin, dermal fillers such as Juvaderm/Beletero/Radiesse, wart/mole removal. 

How many people do you have working with you and what are their roles?

I currently have 3 full time employees who help me run both the GYN clinic and the Cosmetic Spa. Johnna is my GYN clinic nurse. Alexandra coordinates all my patient care on the cosmetic spa.  And, Danielle is new to our team. She is our GYN secretary. Alexis greets patients as our receptionist.

The spa also has associated 2 licensed massage therapists: Luke and Tiffani. We also have a licensed esthetician, Sherrie, seeing her own clients daily. 

Your entire building is covered with incredible art. Tell me about how you choose the art and what you feel it brings to the clinic.

When I moved home in 2004, there was no art gallery, no art walk, and no venue for local artists. In Galveston, many of the local restaurants changed their art monthly. So, I purposefully started recruiting local artists in 2004 and hung their paintings to promote local talent. From there, we developed art walks and then Gallery One Ellleven in downtown Leesville. I still offer my space to local artists and try to change it regularly. My patients like to see new pieces and it keeps my space alive. 

The character of your office is amazing. Tell me about the building itself and the transformation it has made. What is the overall feel you’d like to convey to your clients?

This building was originally constructed in 1915 as a hardware store. Over the last 100 years, it has been many shops and was last a construction company. I have adored this place since I was little. When it became available for purchase, I recruited an architect from Alexandria to help me convert it to this wellness center. The historic preservation society was very torn over the redo. Technically, I did not have to abide by all of the preservation rules/regulation because it isn’t in the historic district. However, once the rehabilitation was complete, they used my building as an example of urban preservation, with the concept of essentially converting a historic building into a functional space. The goal is to use what we have, while trying to preserve the bricks/mortar and general “feel” of the original building. I purposefully left the bricks exposed with all of their beautiful flaws. The original trusses are exposed too. Then we just built the modern, functional elements into the space to convert it to a modern medical facility. 

On a personal note:

If you weren’t a physician and running your own wellness center, what would you be doing?

I would be in a little shack on a beach, grilling conch and watching the sunset. I absolutely love cooking but only with freshly grown, locally sourced foods. That is hard to do here, but I try. 

What is your guilty pleasure?

Food related: tortilla chips with any kind of salsa.  Activity related: I am a magazine fanatic and can spend hours looking at pictures and reading articles for inspiration. 

This was taken from an interview on www.melissaaphotography.com, you can find the full interview here.