By Corey Poole
Amy Lee, public relations and marketing manager for the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center (NRMC), came to Natchitoches for family, making the long drive from San Diego, California five years ago. Before moving to the South, she visited the City of Lights twice while she was dating Justin Lee.
While attending her first Christmas Festival, walking across the Church Street bridge surrounded by 300,000+ lights, Amy realized, for the first time, that she could see herself living in Natchitoches.
“I felt it would be like living in a snow globe,” said Amy, reminiscing. “It always gets a bit more magical during the holiday season.”
After marrying the couple decided to move closer to his family, who settled in the area years ago.
Moving from California meant leaving behind the almost always sunny and 75 degree weather. It also meant trading out earthquakes and wildfires for hurricanes and 100 percent humidity.
Growing up in a military family, Justin didn’t want their future children to have to move from place to place like he had. With his parents living five minutes down the road from their new home, the couple felt this would ensure their children would have the sweet and wholesome memories with their grandparents.
Amy transferred to Northwestern State University to complete her degree is hospitality and tourism management. Waiting tables at Mariner’s Restaurant where she started to get to know a lot of the locals.
This was where one of her first experiences with culture shock occurred.
“Everyone would ask personal questions like what street I lived on,” she explained with a laugh. “I soon learned it was because in a small town like Natchitoches everyone knows everyone and they have a vested interest in the community.”
Amy’s HMT degree from NSU required her to complete an internship, so she chose one at the Cane River National Heritage Area (CRNHA) dealing with marketing and public relations.
When it was time to have their first child, Amy became a patient at NRMC, where she delivered a healthy baby boy in 2021. She remembers having a great experience at the hospital and how helpful every staff member that helped them was.
“In my current position at the hospital I want everyone to feel as comfortable as Juston and I did,” she said. “I want them to feel confident in our medical services.”
One month into her new job and Amy is busy learning about everything while trying to bring a fresh perspective to a system that really, really cares about every patient that walks through its doors.
“There are so many unsung heroes here,” Amy added. “They’re the numerous staff members working behind the scenes to keep the hospital running. They’re the nurses and doctors making sure their patients get the best care. That’s the love of healthcare.”
When she’s not chasing her one-year-old, Amy co-chairs the Natchitoches Young Professionals and is an active member in the Natchitoches Service League. She also loves cooking, which is a huge way she learned about Louisiana’s culture.
“We feed our soul in Louisiana,” said Amy, whose go-to food items are gumbo from Lasyone’s and beignets.
Other family members include the Lee’s two rescue dogs: Doc (a great pyranese who’s the gentle giant of the universe) and Dory (a lab mix who never misses an opportunity to swim).
“Life is too short to not love what you do, and do it with purpose and I love what I do,” Amy added. “I love talking to people and I love talking about what I’m passionate about.”
The best piece of advice that Amy has to share with others is: What you water grows.
“I moved here and I never once felt like I wasn’t completely welcomed by the people in the community,” she said. “It’s one of the reasons why I feel it’s so important to give back. Supporting and giving back to your community is important when you’re living in a small town. It takes a village for everything and I firmly believe that for Natchitoches.”