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Centra In The News

People of Centra, Rhae Newbill

Published on Wednesday December 6, 2023

If you’ve visited one of Centra’s hospital campuses at night in the last month, you may have noticed colorful lights illuminating their exteriors, but did you know these lights have a story behind them too? 

Rhae Newbill grew up in a family where organ donation was often talked about which led she and her brother to become organ donors when they became adults. In 2005, Rhae and her parents faced the loss of her brother after he spent time in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Describing him as someone who was, “servant hearted and never met a stranger,” their family made the brave decision to donate his organs. Unfortunately, too much time had passed after his cardiac death, so the organs were no longer considered eligible for donation. 

However, the experience of having a family member be cared for in the ICU led Rhae, who was in nursing school at Centra at the time, to want to pursue work in the critical care space. Additionally, as she walked through the season of dealing with the loss of her brother, she searched for a support group for family members of patients who had been in critical care but couldn’t find one. 

Today, Rhae serves as the Advanced Clinical Nurse on the Professional Clinical Practice Team where she focuses on furthering the ABCDEF (A-F) Bundle Model of Care for Centra’s critical care patients. This model of care seeks to help patients get off the ventilator faster, seeks to recognize symptoms of delirium early, ensure the patient is on the appropriate medications to prevent delirium, keep the patients muscles intact and shorten their recovery time. 

One key aspect of the A-F Bundle is involving the patient's family in their care which includes placing them at the bedside, coaching them through the situation and providing them with tangible ideas on how they can best support their loved one during their time in the ICU. 

Rhae also facilitates a post ICU support group for families who have had similar experiences—a manifestation of the group she was looking for when she first lost her brother. While she guides the conversation and is present to provide questions if the conversation comes to a pause, Rhae explained, “the group allows family members to empathize and talk together about their similar experiences because it’s peer led.”

However, Rhae isn’t only an advocate for excellent care for ICU patients and their families. Her personal experiences have led her to seek ways to further organ donation education in the community, and a conversation with her son sparked an idea for a new way to do just that.

She explained that her son is obsessed with Liberty University’s Freedom Tower and would always ask why it was lit up in specific colors. This sparked an idea in Rhae, and she began to wonder if Liberty would be willing to light up their tower green in order to raise awareness about Organ Donation in Lynchburg.

This led to Rhae connecting with representatives from Liberty and while they were open to the idea, the project unfortunately came to a standstill. However, one day Rhae happened to mention her idea to Coral Hunter and Carrie White who asked, “why couldn’t we light up Centra’s buildings?” 

Working with Roger Bradley, Vice President of Facilities Management and Construction, a Centra team including Coral, Carrie and Rhae were able to begin building out a plan for how to light up each of Centra’s hospitals. In the process, Carrie also worked to establish an official list of awareness months and colors. 

Rhae’s hope of raising awareness through the lights has now been fulfilled. Whenever a family makes the brave decision to donate the organs of their loved one who has passed at Centra, the entire front of Lynchburg General Hospital as well as Virginia Baptist Hospital’s spire and the signs at Southside Community Hospital and Bedford Memorial Hospital are lit up green which is the color associated with sharing life through organ donation. It is also planned for the Medical Office Building being constructed on Langhorne Road to have this capability.

Rhae’s heart for caring for others isn’t limited to her work at Centra, in addition to having two children of their own, Rhae and her husband also foster. When she’s not with her family, you are likely to find her at Childrey Baptist Church serving in women’s ministry or involved in missions both locally and internationally. She has gone on three medical mission trips to Rwanda where she’s been able to teach the fundamental aspects of critical care to medical professionals in the country and love on patients and their families.

When asked what’s the most important thing the world is missing right now, Rhae shared, “God and faith are my number one, God’s the reason I was placed here to do this job. I want to use my opportunity to help those around me and we all need to recognize that we should spread love despite racial, political or socioeconomic divides.” 

There’s no doubt that Rhae is using the opportunities around her to do just that.