Essential Work Inspires an Essential Worker
Oct 21, 2022
Monique Binkley Smith
Portrait of Jesse Young

Like a lot of young people, Jesse Young needed a job but was unsure what he wanted to do. A close friend who worked at a hospital in Oakland, their hometown, told him the hospital needed help in its Environmental Services department. Fast-forward to today, and Young says after 15 years on the job, he “pretty much knows every inch of the building from top to bottom.”

Young and his Alta Bates Summit Medical Center coworkers, whom he calls his second family, know keeping the hospital clean is essential to providing safe and high-quality care. The team takes pride cleaning and sanitizing the hospital to protect the health of patients, patients’ families and the thousands of people who work there.

Young says he’s learned a lot about himself and about life from working at the hospital and that he’s benefitted from the advice and mentoring he’s received from coworkers.

His connection to Alta Bates Summit’s Oakland campus runs deeper than supporting the hospital’s mission to provide safe, high-quality healthcare. A few years ago, his mother died there. Now, when he delivers linens and mops floors in the unit where she passed away, he pauses to remember her and her spirit.

“Even though I have a job to do, I stop and gather my thoughts,” he says. “I understand what other families are going through on that unit. But knowing that I’m helping other people’s family members helps me get through the day.”


Like the friend helping him navigate uncertainty all those years ago, Young also gets satisfaction from helping any confused-looking patients and family members he comes across while making his rounds at the hospital saying, “I’ve been in their shoes. They might be dealing with a lot, they might be scared or just frustrated so I take a minute to walk them to where they need to go.”

Answering the (Casting) Call

Young’s pride in his work at Alta Bates Summit recently prompted him to answer a casting call by Sutter Health for employees and affiliated physicians to audition for roles in the non-profit integrated network’s fall 2022 advertising campaign. He was selected for a featured role from among hundreds of colleagues who applied. Watch the commercial, filmed at Alta Bates Summit’s Oakland campus and featuring Sutter employees, nurses, and affiliated doctors from around the network, here.

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