By Callie Hietala
A new, fast-growing business is seeking more qualified nurses to join its ranks.
Tova Yellock is the founder and CEO of Elite Nurses Staffing Agency, LLC, a company that provides travel nurses to hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities which are short-handed.
Yellock said she has worked as a nurse since 2015, and as a travel nurse for the last three years. She decided that she wanted to become her own boss and, in December 2020, got a business license.
“It took me awhile to get everything in place,” but by August, Yellock had her first contract.
“I started advertising, I started hiring employees, and now I’m up to nine contracts and I have about 60 employees” on the roster, she said, adding she believes “I’m the only African American with this type of business in this area.”
Yellock said travel nurses are assigned to work in different facilities that are short-staffed. The work is particularly needed now.
“Due to the pandemic, a lot of nurses have either quit their jobs or they need more staff because of the pandemic, so that’s where my company comes in,” she said. “I help their facilities make sure that their patients have 24/7 care with certified and qualified staff, even when their staff can’t cover it.
“I staff RNs (registered nurses), LPNs (licensed practical nurses), and CNAs (certified nursing assistants),” she said, adding that she’s looking to take on even more.
Nurses working for her agency must be fully vaccinated, she said, adding “I do run into issues with nurses not wanting to be vaccinated, but it’s a requirement.”
Many of the facilities she assists also are short-staffed because some nurses are resisting vaccinations and therefore cannot work, she said.
“That’s when my vaccinated nurses can come in and help with that situation,” adding that the majority of the facilities she staffs are local.
“I try not to go more than an hour and a half away from Martinsville because I know that a lot of nurses here don’t know a lot about travel nursing,” Yellock said, adding that she has contracts with facilities in Bassett, Danville, Roanoke, Salem, and even as far as Yanceyville, N.C.
“It’s growing pretty fast,” she said.
Working for a travel nurse agency allows flexibility that may be lacking in a more traditional workplace. “The nurses pick their own hours, and they make their own schedule,” she said.
Even nurses who already have full-time employment can sign on with Elite, and pick up shifts elsewhere to bring in extra money.
The pay also is preferable to a more traditional position, she said.
“You’ll have an LPN, for example, who will make $22 to $24 an hour. At my company, they’ll make $38 an hour, which is hard to get as an LPN here locally,” Yellock said, noting the reason for the higher pay is because her company is staffing facilities that are in dire need and are willing to pay a higher rate.
When she contracts a nurse out to a facility, Yellock said the work can last from a month to 13 weeks. However, her company mostly works so far on a per diem basis, in which the facility gives her its staffing needs and her nurses select the shifts they are available to work.
Currently, Yellock said her company does not offer benefits such as insurance, but it is something she hopes to add as the agency continues to grow.
In the short term, she is seeking to hire even more nurses to continue staffing the facilities she currently contracts with, and by 2023, she hopes to expand into other areas of Virginia, and even into other states.
Yellock said being the owner of a travel nurse agency rather than working for one is a different feeling. “It is a lot of work, it is challenging, it is something new every day,” she said, “but I’m growing as my business grows and I’m becoming more knowledgeable.”
To learn about employment opportunities or staffing availability with Elite Nurses Staffing Agency, LLC, visit www.elitenursesllc.com or call (276) 299-2676.