Dr. Cervantes received her medical degree and completed her internal medicine residency at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Her background as a first generation Latina directly informed her deep commitment to becoming a physician as well as her community service, programs, health policy activism, and research focused on promoting social justice in medical education and health equity.
Dr. Cervantes has worked as a hospitalist physician at Denver Health, the safety-net hospital for the city of Denver for over 12 years and has dedicated her career to both creating a healthcare workforce that is diverse as well as conducting research to improve person-centered and clinical outcomes among undocumented and documented Latinx patients on dialysis.
The catalyst for her interest in improving outcomes for Latino patients with kidney failure was a former undocumented Latina patient with kidney failure who struggled with emergency-only hemodialysis (dialysis in the emergency department when critically ill) and ultimately died. Funded by the RWJF, the Doris Duke Foundation, and the NIH, Dr. Cervantes demonstrated that undocumented immigrant patients with kidney failure reliant on emergency-only dialysis suffer physical and psychosocial distress and have a higher mortality compared to patients that receive standard thrice-weekly dialysis. In 2019, as a result of Dr. Cervantes’ research and stakeholder engagement, Colorado Medicaid opted to include the diagnosis of kidney failure in the definition of ‘emergency medical condition’ thereby expanding access to standard dialysis to undocumented immigrants.
In addition to her work with the undocumented kidney failure community, Dr. Cervantes is developing community-based interventions that will address the social challenges faced by racial/ethnic minorities on dialysis.