Terri Lawson-Adams is the CEO of Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing a full-service agency committed to providing strategic solutions for all medical staffing needs.
Ellsworth was founded in Tucker, Georgia with a mission of providing “Superior People and Superior Service.”
When Terri’s mother was ill, she experienced firsthand how a shortage of healthcare workers could negatively impact patients and their families. That’s why she created Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing – to deliver peace of mind to organizations and families as well as the individuals looking to work in the healthcare field.
Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing recruits and places qualified, compassionate staff in hospitals, hospices, schools, skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, assisted living, and government agencies.
Terri always wanted to help others and give back to my community. As CEO of Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing, Terri draws on her extensive background in business, political organizing, and community affairs. She started her career with the Louisiana Legislature and later managed several political campaigns, developed outreach programs for Atlanta’s Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and owned and operated a small business. Terri also served as a delegate to a national political convention. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University (MPA) and Southern University at New Orleans (BS); and a fellow of the Loyola University Institute of Politics. Terri is currently a member of American Staffing Association, Society for Human Resource Management, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, Atlanta Black Chambers, Atlanta Senior Network Niche and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Terri resides in Tucker, GA with her husband, Keith. They have two children, Lauryn and Keith Jr. During her free time, Terri likes to walk and hike at Stone Mountain Park. She enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with family and friends.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- How Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing started
- Vision, mission and values of Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing
- Staffing companies recruiting today
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for GWBC Radio’s Open For Business. Now, here’s your host
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here. Another episode of GWBC Open for Business, and this is going to be a good one. Today on the show, we have Terri Lawson-Adams with Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing. Welcome, Terri.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:00:30] Thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing. How are you serving folks?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:00:38] Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing, we are a staffing agency. We staff clinicians. That’s RNs, nurse practitioners, licensed practical nurses, certified medical assistants, as well as physical therapists. We are locally owned. We’re located in Decatur, Georgia. And we send people to work at any place in the city that needs healthcare clinicians or help with their healthcare services.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:12] Now, what’s the back story? How did you get involved in this line of work?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:01:17] Well, it’s very interesting. In my previous life, I did political consultant, campaign management, and community affairs. And a couple of years ago, my mother fell and she was ill and she’d gone to the hospital. And prior to her falling, I kept thinking, “I need to do something. I want to do something where I can help people, where I can serve, and make a difference in the community.” But I didn’t know what that would be.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:01:51] And after she fell and was in the hospital, we had a lot of days where we had difficulty getting nurses to come in and trying to find a nurse. They were short staffed. And I remember complaining and asking to speak to the director of nursing and escalated it up. And at the time, they said, “Well, we’re sorry. We’re short.” And I said, “Well, can you call a staffing agency?” And they said, “Well, it’s not that easy. We have to go through what’s called the managed service provider,” which I had no idea what that was. And she said, “We really apologize.”
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:02:32] So, of course, that didn’t make me feel better. And I saw a lady in a room next to her who also was calling for help, and she had no family members there to go and try to find a nurse. And I sat there that evening and thought, “You know, this is a need. Something needs to be done.” But kind of let it go and move forward.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:02:57] A couple of weeks and she’d gone to rehab. And at the rehab facility, they also were short staffed. And I remember complaining and going to the executive director saying call a staffing agency. And they said, “Well, we don’t have any one that we can call.” And so, after that, I did some research. I thought, “You know what? Maybe this is where I can help and make a difference.”
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:03:21] So, I did research and got a consultant and started Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing. And thought, “Okay. I can help, not only facilities to run smoothly, but help families give them peace of mind and help the patients as well.”
Lee Kantor: [00:03:39] Now, when you’re starting a staffing agency, it’s kind of a chicken and the egg thing, right? Like, you need to have the healthcare people that do the work, but you also need the clients that want to hire you to have healthcare people to do the work. So, how do you, at the same time, build up both of those groups? Was that difficult?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:04:01] It was very difficult, because when we first started, we thought, “Okay. We should always have the people first.” And we want to differentiate ourselves from everybody else by saying, “You can call us, and when you call us, we will have staff that are qualified. We’re going to make sure that we’ve already credentialed them. We’re going to make sure they’re drug tested, background checked, and ready to go.” So, we started hiring and hiring like crazy. Then, we went to look for clients. By the time we got clients, the clinicians were gone. So, it was trying to get that balance, and it’s always hard to get the balance.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:04:40] But, yeah, we struggled at the beginning with that formula and learned that it wasn’t the best formula. Because we were hiring lots of people, and drug tested them, and background checking, and just lost a lot of money.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:55] Right. Because you were doing that and they ended up working for somebody else. So, you invested in them, but you never got the payout.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:05:03] We never got the payout because I did that before we got the clients, thinking they would be sitting and waiting. Not really thinking that they want sitting and waiting to go to work. They’re ready to go to work immediately. So, that was difficult. That was really difficult in the beginning. But we’ve learned from our mistakes.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:22] So, now, has your client changed? Does the person hiring you to find these practitioners, has that person changed? Like, through COVID, is it a different person pre-pandemic than now?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:05:35] Yes. It has changed. Prior to COVID, we were also doing homecare. And when COVID hit, we were doing something with one of the counties, and they stopped everyone who wanted the homes. And then, our private homecare clients, they were all scared. So, that kind of stopped completely. Some of our assisted living facilities had a high rate of COVID cases in their facility, so it was hard to keep people in their facilities, workers as well as just their residents. And so, they didn’t need us as much.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:06:22] But it was very interesting because we started getting calls from the oddest places that wanted clinicians, wanted nurses to do temperature checks, or, say, we had requests for vaccinations. And we also had a lot of schools that need help. So, our client did change.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:45] Now, how has kind of being part of GWBC helped you in this adventure of yours?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:06:51] GWBC has been a tremendous help for us. They offer lots of trainings, and those trainings are really, really helpful. And I’m just happy to be part of it. And I’m glad someone told me about it because I didn’t know anything about them and I didn’t realize all of the help and support and resources that’s available through the organization.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:18] Now, as you kind of grow in your business, what has been kind of the most rewarding part? It seems like every day you’re helping somebody, you know, kind of get through a difficult time.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:07:31] That’s the thing about this business, it can be hard, but it’s very rewarding. And because it’s always rewarding, one, to even help people find jobs. Some people are looking for jobs and they can’t find them. Of course, pre-COVID – also everywhere – but helping people find jobs, helping facilities that are struggling that need help, that’s been rewarding knowing that we’re helping them give them a peace of mind, but also the patients or the people that they serve. Even schools, knowing that we’re helping to try to keep the students safe and administration safe at the schools. All of that has been very rewarding for me.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:17] Now, because of the pandemic, did that force you to do things differently? Like, maybe some of this people working remotely, did that hurt you in some ways and help you in other ways? Like, maybe now you’re able to interview people faster and using technology than maybe having them come in in-person and do an interview? Like, has that changed at all?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:08:42] Yes. Prior to the pandemic, we did all of our recruiting in-person. And I always felt like I wanted to see people. I wanted to know and get a feel for them. Because it’s kind of hard to get a feel for someone virtually. And always wanting to know that people representing Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing, we seen them, we know how they are, we kind of got a feel. I mean, you never really know someone just from meeting them once or twice, but it’s better than doing it virtually, I thought.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:09:15] But then, the pandemic hit and it’s like, “Okay. Well, we can’t do this. We have to do it virtually.” So, we started doing our recruiting virtually. We do interviews virtually. And we’re able to interview more people. And we’re even doing stuff outside of the metro Atlanta now. We’re looking at doing stuff out of state. Because we realized that we can do things virtually and we don’t necessarily have to meet people in-person. Now, the difficulties, we have also increased, I guess, our technology to make sure we can onboard people virtually. But it’s helped us.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:56] Yeah. It’s one of those things where there’s a lot of negative, obviously. But then, some silver linings happen and maybe this will enable you to grow in areas that you didn’t even anticipate.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:10:08] Correct. Because I never thought about staffing at warehouses or even at schools at the time. And here we are.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:16] So, now, being a woman-certified business, is that something that opens some doors in areas that maybe people who aren’t taking advantage of that opportunity are missing out on?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:10:27] Yes. I think so. Because some organizations and bigger companies, they have a certain spend with women-owned businesses. And if you’re not certified, then they want to make sure you have certification. So, if you’re not certified and you’re a woman-owned business or you’re just saying you’re woman-owned, they need the certification. So, it does help to give you an advantage.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:52] So, as we end this year and look into next year, are you pretty optimistic? Or do you think it’s going to be tough? What does next year look like for you?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:11:02] I’m optimistic. I’m optimistic that we’re going to keep growing and growing. And, you know, being a woman-owned business and with all of the programing and training that we get, I think, it’s going to help us as well and position us to continue to grow.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:22] Now, are you constantly looking for – I would imagine it’s twofold – clients and also the healthcare practitioner? You need the worker and you need the clients that need the workers. So, is it constantly kind of looking for those folks?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:11:38] That’s correct. Yeah. We have two clients, the workforce as well as the facilities that we service. Yes, we’re always looking.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:47] So, if there’s a practitioner or if there’s somebody who needs healthcare, what’s a website that they can go and check you out?
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:11:58] We are at www.ehstaffing.com. That’s E as in elephant-H as in Henry-staffing.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:08] Right. And that stands for Ellsworth Healthcare Staffing. Terri, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Terri Lawson-Adams: [00:12:16] Thank you. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:19] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time on GWBC Open for Business.
The Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC®) is at the forefront of redefining women business enterprises (WBEs). An increasing focus on supplier diversity means major corporations are viewing our WBEs as innovative, flexible and competitive solutions. The number of women-owned businesses is rising to reflect an increasingly diverse consumer base of women making a majority of buying decision for herself, her family and her business.
GWBC® has partnered with dozens of major companies who are committed to providing a sustainable foundation through our guiding principles to bring education, training and the standardization of national certification to women businesses in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.