North America

Six Members in a Family Follow a Tradition of Service

The Ongs provide care for their communities through Adventist Health.

Kirsten Cutler, Adventist Health
Six Members in a Family Follow a Tradition of Service
[Photo: Adventist Health]

When Esther Ong moved to Los Angeles, California, United States from the Philippines and was seeking a nursing job, her brother gave her a tour of the Adventist hospital in Glendale. She knew almost right away it was the place for her.

“When I had my tour, I felt the ambience,” Esther recalled. “I said, OK, I think I’ll be working at Glendale!”

Esther Ong (back row, second from left) has been a nurse with Adventist Health for nearly 20 years and has started an unlikely tradition: all five of her children also work at Adventist Health. [Photo: Adventist Health]

Esther achieved her goal and started working there in 2003. Throughout her 19 years with Adventist Health, Esther has worked as a staff nurse, preceptor, and relief charge nurse, and now she is a telemetry educator at Adventist Health White Memorial in Los Angeles. In the process, she started an unlikely family tradition. All five of her children now work as medical professionals for Adventist Health.

“As soon as [my kids] reached high school, I enrolled them in the White Memorial Foundation as hospital volunteers,” Esther said. “The purpose of that was to keep them busy with activities in the summer instead of being in the house playing with gadgets all day long and, in addition, for them to see the bigger picture of the health-care system.”

Esther considers her children’s volunteer experiences as at least one factor in their decisions to become health-care providers. “It’s like we’re following the saying: ‘The family that works together, stays together,’ ” she said with a laugh.

Karla, the second oldest of Esther’s children, was first in line. After working in nursing for three years at Glendale, she’s now a nurse practitioner at Adventist Health Bakersfield.

“As a nurse, you’re the one that’s most remembered by the patient,” Karla said. “I’ve been a patient myself, so I kind of know how it is on the other end of things, and I think that drives you to become better for your patients.”

Karen Ong (left) and Esther Ong (right) with a colleague, administering COVID-19 vaccines. [Photo: Adventist Health]

Karla adds that her mother has involved her family in medical mission trips throughout their life, which have also shaped their goals as a family and as individuals. “I think that did influence a lot of our decisions, going into health care and becoming the professionals that we are,” she said.

The eldest Ong sibling, Karen, is also a nurse by training and now serves as employee health manager at White Memorial. She sees her professional mission as a family mission as well. “Our mission is to get people better,” Karen said, “especially those who really are in need.” 

Karen said compassion, understanding, and patience were words and values she grew up with. “Not everybody is as lucky as we are,” she said. “I’m grateful to my mom for guiding us with the principles that she has taught us since we were small.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Adventist Health Story blog.

Kirsten Cutler, Adventist Health

Kirsten Cutler, Adventist Health