Trudis Andrews

A doctor who pulled a team together, then stayed for the long haul

A doctor who pulled a team together, then stayed for the long haul

Trudis Andrews was no stranger to surgery. By the time she turned 80, she had already undergone operations for diverticulosis, infected ovaries, and breast cancer at a hospital in Valdosta. In 2015, she received more bad news. A colonoscopy found a sizeable polyp imbedded in her colon. Her primary care doctor was frank. It didn’t look good. She needed another operation, possibly a complex one, to take out a section of colon and see if it was cancerous. The good news, however, was that he referred her to Dr. Charles Bagwell at Coffee Regional Medical Center, close to the small community of West Green where Mrs. Andrews had grown up and now lived with her husband Harry. “I fell in love with Dr. Bagwell from first sight,” she says. “He told me exactly what had to be done, clear; taking all the time we needed to understand. I had no doubt he knew what to do and that he could help me.”

More good news was that Coffee Regional Medical Center, where Dr. Bagwell operated, proved to be a far cry from the old hospital she remembered from decades back. Now it was modern, high-tech, designed for comfort, welcoming, and friendly.

Things didn’t go perfectly smooth, however.. When Mrs. Andrews and her husband arrived at CRMC on the appointed date, her heart rate had dropped so low that Dr. Bagwell told her he could not give her anesthesia. Fortunately, everything and everybody he needed to get her back on track were right at hand. Dr. Bagwell called in cardiologist, Dr.Darrel Collins, who diagnosed the problem. CRMC surgeon Chester Royals put in a pacemaker to solve it. Three weeks later he had Mrs. Andrews back in surgery.

The mass in her colon was cancer, as suspected, set in a patch of bad diverticulitis. Dr. Bagwell removed six inches of colon on one side. He then turned his attention to the other side where a baseball-sized hernia was entwined in scar tissue from previous surgeries. He meticulously unwound the stringy tissue and removed as much of the hernia as he could. Throughout the long procedure, he kept Mrs. Andrews’s husband and children posted on what was happening.

She stayed in CRMC for eight days, with Dr. Bagwell checking on her frequently and adjusting her pain medicine as needed, especially when the shaking from her Parkinson’s caused pain at the surgical sites. “He was always there,” she says. “He became like family to me and my husband. I am a loving person, and Dr. Bagwell accepts my love and returns it with a big hug. I can feel his concern and affection for me. I would tell anyone, if they want a doctor who listens and cares for you, I would recommend him. He is one precious guy to me.”

She also has good words for CRMC. “The nurses could not have been nicer, to me and to my daughter who stayed with me the first few nights. They took good care of both of us, bringing me pillows, blankets, and coming in all the time to see if there was anything they could get or do for us. It’s a whole different hospital than it was when I was young. It’s my hospital now, and I recommend it – and Dr. Bagwell — to everyone.”

Trudis Andrews grew up in West Green, less than a dozen miles from Coffee Regional Medical Center, where she now receives all her medical care. She lives in the house she and her first husband built 50 years ago. After his death at an early age, she married Harry Andrews. Her son now runs the family farm, growing cotton, peanuts, and corn on some 150 acres. Her daughter lives in Virginia. The Andrews have four grown grandsons.

Dr. Bagwell joined CRMC in 2001. He is originally from Douglas. In addition to his surgical expertise, he has published in various medical journals and holds a graduate degree from Harvard in healthcare management. Read his full bio here.