SEECA is one of the most well-known and highly-praised eye clinics in the Bayou Region. They specialize in LASIK, cataract surgery, diabetic eye care and more. Ophthalmologist, President and Founder of SEECA, Dr. A.J. “Dr. D” dela Houssaye has received numerous awards during his illustrious career, including being named Best Eye Doctor in the Region. Dr. D has been a major influencer in the community when it comes to LASIK eye surgery and works of charity, especially with veterans in our community.
What led you to own your own company?
Did you see yourself in this position when you started out in the work force?
“I did a part of my residency at Chabert Medical Center, and I loved Houma. The awesome Cajun culture reminded me so much of my small home town of Cecilia, Louisiana. I knew I wanted to practice in this market, and I had a mentor that was going to partner with me. At the last minute, he got cold feet, but I was already sold on this market, so I opened up a practice on my own. Everything worked out perfectly, and I love being the captain of my own destiny.”
What is the biggest challenge you have faced over the years and how did you meet it?
“My horrific accident in 2012 was the biggest challenge of my life. Surviving the accident and coming back from that tragedy was 100 times harder than Harvard. I had a broken neck [cervical vertebrae 2, 3 and 7], major stroke, fractured skull and multiple cranial nerve palsies. After losing a critical amount of blood, I barely made it to the hospital where the doctors frantically tried to save my life. When I woke up from the coma, I was unable to speak, walk, eat or breathe without a ventilator. Many feared the worst.
I overcame the pain and the depression with God’s help. I prayed every day and promised God that if he let me walk again, I would be the best person I could be. After months in a wheelchair, I experienced a miracle. It was like winning the lottery times 1,000. Now, I am able to walk, talk and breathe again after many had thought this impossible. I was eventually able to return to work. My recovery took over two years of intense physical therapy, and I still have severe deficits, but I am so grateful because I can walk, so who really cares about the other deficits.”
Other than your phone, what is something you need to get through each workday?
“I couldn’t be Dr. D without my great SEECA team. I can honestly say that my team means everything to me. Every day I thank God that I get to work with a group of superstars who truly care about our patients.”
What piece of advice do you share with your employees regularly?
“I tell our SEECA team members to treat our patients like they are family. I encourage our team leaders to seek out examples of our team taking great care of our patients and celebrate those stories. I recently had a technician, Jessica Leonard, who secretly helped a patient with their situation. A few weeks later, I did something nice for that technician and she was shocked because she was trying to help out without me knowing about it, but it was so much fun to catch her being generous.”
Who are your greatest influencers? How do you feel knowing that others list you as theirs?
“My greatest influencers are my Mom, Mary Belleau, and my uncle, Pon Hardy. Most don’t know this story because my past was too emotional to talk about for years. When I was first born, my dad was a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War. Dad secretly took Pon aside and asked Pon if he would take care of me if something happened to him during the war. Pon agreed but never thought anything bad would happen because my dad was an awesome jet pilot. Unfortunately, Dad got killed in action when my mom was pregnant with my baby sister. Sadly, Dad never got to meet Monique. Pon kept his promise to take care of me and he also took care of my baby sister his entire life, all without a word. War is tough, but sometimes, amazing things come out of war if you look hard enough.”
It is very humbling to know that people look at me as an influencer. I am standing on the shoulders of my parents with my dad pulling for me in heaven. My life has been punctuated by tough challenges, but if you keep the faith, you can succeed. Never give up. Never.”