People Inspired: April’s path from clerk to supervisor

Published 1:41 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024

BY OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS HOSPITAL

From outpatient clinic clerk to seasoned nurse and clinical care supervisor, April Toney, LPN, has worked for Our Lady of the Angels Health for nearly a decade.

April joined our team in 2014 as a clerk in an outpatient clinic, arriving around the time “when the Angels came.” That was the year our health system assumed the management and operations of the LSU Bogalusa Medical Center, renaming it Our Lady of the Angels Hospital.

Finding Her Purpose in Family Medicine

April’s love for the clinic setting was evident early on, and she was repeatedly drawn back after exploring different roles and areas within the hospital, including the ER and ICU. Family medicine, with its emphasis on building relationships and knowing patients beyond their medical charts, became April’s passion and purpose.

“I know my people,” April says. “Repeat patients become a part of your life. You make it personal, knowing their kids’ names without even meeting them — it’s a special bond.”

April’s love for what she does is drawn from her patients. Preventive care takes precedence in the primary care clinic setting, and April is able to learn from her patients while helping them.

“Our patients inspire me every day,” she says. “Watching people progress and become healthier is amazing. I love being part of their care.”

Located in the small town of Bogalusa, Our Lady of the Angels Hospital provides high-quality healthcare in a rural setting. National healthcare watchdog organization The Leapfrog Group recently named Angels a 2023 Top Rural Hospital, one of only two in Louisiana and 132 in the country. Angels also received an “A” grade for patient safety for fall 2023.

A Heart for Nursing

April was about four years into her nursing career when she was inspired by the compassion of a nurse caring for her father in his final days.

“That nurse had hallways full of patients, and my father’s skin was weeping,” April recalls. “She came in there 50 times to change the sheets under him. She didn’t have to because it wasn’t going to help anything, but her heart was where it needed to be.”

That nurse’s passion to provide comfort to April’s father and his family changed April and her approach to nursing.

“I knew then that’s what I wanted to be. I didn’t want to just be a nurse. I needed to be someone who felt it,” April says. “God worked through her — he knew what I needed to see and helped me see what I needed to be.”

Establishing Her Priorities

As April’s career evolved, so did her understanding of priorities. Initially she placed her career at the forefront. But over time, life’s experiences taught her the true value of family and faith.

“God first, and then everything else lines up afterward,” she reflects. This realization became the compass guiding her decisions, both professionally and personally. April also values being able to share her faith in the workplace.

Within her current team, April has found stability and a sense of belonging. She says her team leader understands the importance of family and fosters an environment where team members feel supported in their personal lives without feeling like a burden.

Today, as a supervisor, April champions the values of faith, family and genuine care. Our Lady of the Angels’ unique environment allows team members to find their own paths while offering diverse opportunities for growth and education.

“Medically there are so many different areas to work, and I don’t think you could go wrong here,” April says.

Listening to Heal and Grow

Listening, April believes, is an integral part of nursing. It goes beyond just administering medications — it’s about understanding and being present for the patients. “A big part of healing is having someone to listen,” she says.

This culture of listening extends to leadership. April says her leaders are open to suggestions for improvement. “It’s good to know you can come to them. They’re open-minded about hearing what you have to say,” she says.

As April looks toward the future, retirement isn’t a concept she readily embraces. A grandmother of five, mother of five with a 10-year-old at home, she finds contentment and joy in her work with our ministry and the balance she’s able to find here.

“I’ve worked in a lot of places, and I’ve found where I’m supposed to be,” she says. “I’ve never been happier in my career.”