Dr. Cervantes’ personal reality as a first-generation, English-as-a-second-language Latina has directly informed her deep commitment to becoming a physician researcher and caring for the underserved. Dr. Cervantes received her medical degree and completed her internal medicine residency at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Cervantes has dedicated her career to both creating a healthcare workforce that is diverse as well as conducting research to improve patient-centered and clinical outcomes among undocumented and documented Latinos on dialysis. The catalyst for her interest in improving outcomes for Latino patients with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) was a former undocumented Latina patient with ESRD who struggled with emergency-only hemodialysis and ultimately died. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well as the Doris Duke Foundation, Dr. Cervantes demonstrated that uninsured patients with ESRD reliant on emergency-only hemodialysis suffer physical and psychosocial distress and have a higher mortality compared to patients with access to standard hemodialysis. Her research was highlighted by media including an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. In 2019, as a result of Dr. Cervantes’ research, Colorado Medicaid opted to include the diagnosis of End-Stage Renal Disease” in the definition of ‘emergency medical condition.’ With this change, undocumented dialysis patients will have access to standard outpatient hemodialysis. Dr. Cervantes’ research has directly informed policy and literally saved the lives of undocumented immigrants with ESRD. In addition to her work with the undocumented ESRD community, Dr. Cervantes is developing culturally tailored interventions that will address the social challenges faced by poor documented dialysis patients.
Last modified: May 21, 2019