A doctor who got it right and who really listens
Patricia Hunter didn’t meet Dr. Royals until after he performed emergency surgery for a mass in her intestines. She doesn’t remember her husband Rusty rushing her to Coffee Regional Medical Center at 4 o’clock in the morning, the blood tests, CT-scan, or being wheeled into the operating room. She spent the next three weeks – including her 55th birthday – attached to a ventilator and a maze of tubes, in and out of consciousness.
When she came around, a strangely familiar man in a white jacket was smiling at her. Her husband seemed to know him well. The surgeon had, after all, been at her bedside every day. “I wasn’t sure you would make it,” he said. “I’m so glad you did.”
Pat Hunter still had a long way to go. When she went into surgery, her white blood count had been life-threateningly low. She was still weak from recent surgery at a different hospital. Her care was complicated by rheumatoid arthritis. Always slender, she had lost almost 50 pounds while on the ventilator. Always fiercely independent, she now needed a wheelchair, but, as Dr. Royals told her admiringly, she “was a real fighter.” Three months after her surgery with him, she was well enough for him to reverse the colostomy performed after removing a small part of her intestine caught in the intricate mass. By then, she knew him — and CRMC — quite well.
“I just love Dr. Royals to death,” says Mrs. Hunter, “and so does my husband. Some doctors are constantly in a hurry. Dr. Royals comes in and sits down, wants to know how you feel, how your life is going. He spends whatever time you need, answering questions, explaining things. He really listens to you. And I appreciate how he’s always honest with you, even if it’s hard to hear, because I also know he’s always going to be there for me.”
She adds, “he’s a careful, knowledgeable doctor, with a God-given gift to heal.” Her former doctor diagnosed her ongoing pain and sickness as related to her gallbladder. Later, after surgery and six weeks of hospitalization, he told her the removed gallbladder actually had looked pretty good. He also had seen the intestinal mass that Dr. Royals saw and removed but the first doctor dismissed it as unimportant. “Dr. Royals would not let anything slip by,” says Mrs. Hunter. He even did barium imaging to make sure there were no blockages before the second surgery to reverse the colostomy.
Mrs. Hunter is also extremely happy with the staff at CRMC. Her husband tells her that the whole time she was on a ventilator, not only Dr. Royals but also the nurses were constantly coming in to see about her, to make her as comfortable as possible. Returning to CRMC for frequent follow-up visits (now awake!), she enjoys the care team’s attention and kindness. “I’ve been there so long and so often, they all know me by heart.”
One other thing she says she has to mention about CRMC, “even if it sounds like a small thing after all I went through, every time I go for an appointment, I tell the nurses I want one of the medical center’s great hamburgers and they order it for me I love those hamburgers!”
“I would tell anyone who needs surgery they can’t do better than Dr. Royals,” she says. “And Coffee is my hospital now and going forward!”
Originally from Hazelhurst and Broxton, Pat Hunter and her husband Rusty moved back to Broxton last year to be closer to their mothers. The Hunters have twin girls, a nurse and a nurse practitioner.
Dr. Royals has practiced at CRMC since 2014. He is originally from Douglas. Learn more on Dr.Royals’ bio.