Employee Profile: Demetrius Martinez
For the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), attracting and retaining bright young minds is critical to an intergenerational workforce, diversity, and driving innovation. Demetrius Martinez, or “Demetri” as he prefers, joined HHS-OIG through the federal pathway for Recent Graduates Program in 2018. As a social science research analyst in the Office of Evaluation and Inspections, Demetri’s personal and professional passions have long focused on three values central to HHS-OIG’s work: impact, innovation, and serving the public.
Formative Years and Interest in Public Health Issues
McAllen, Texas, Demetri’s hometown, lies in the Rio Grande Valley along the United States-Mexico Border. Growing up in a predominately Hispanic and historically underserved area, he recalled the formative impact of witnessing public health disparities in his community early on. “Stemming from what I saw around me, I became passionate about vulnerable communities getting access to care and high-quality care,” he emphasized. Demetri also noted the influential value his family placed on education and public service that were pervasive throughout his childhood and shaped his trajectory.
Education and Journey to HHS-OIG
During his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Demetri conducted research on the lack of access to quality health care in the Rio Grande Valley for Hispanic community members, focusing on the higher prevalence of preventable or treatable conditions, language barriers, and access to health insurance programs.
Demetri then obtained a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied public policy and focused on program evaluation and quasi-experimental methods examining the effectiveness and impact of government policies and programs. “My interest was in evaluating government programs and their delivered value, efficiency, management, and measurable outcomes as a way to ensure the government is best serving the needs of diverse populations,” he said. During that time, Demetri also held positions as a student intern at the White House Presidential Personnel Office and the American Institutes for Research.
Working as an HHS-OIG Social Science Research Analyst on Adverse Events
After joining the HHS-OIG’s Office of Evaluation and Inspections in Dallas, he launched full-speed into providing critical assistance to the office’s adverse events body of work. “Admittedly, I was no expert in adverse events and patient harm when I first started, but I was passionate about the issues. Everyone deserves high-quality and safe care,” he said. Demetri utilized his research and evaluation skillset to quickly rise to the challenge, becoming the lead data analyst on several adverse events reports, including,
- Adverse Events in Hospitals: A Quarter of Medicare Patients Experienced Harm in October 2018,
- Instances of IHS Labor and Delivery Care Not Following National Clinical Guidelines or Best Practices, and
- Incidence of Adverse Events in Indian Health Service Hospitals.
Reflecting on his work on the topic, he said, “It became evident to me that HHS-OIG can do something to drive improvements in this area by 1) drawing attention to the issues, 2) publicizing our findings, and 3) making actionable recommendations. In the reports I’ve worked on, I’ve helped develop and write recommendations that have already led to positive impact. For example, we’re seeing HHS agencies reinvigorate their efforts to improve patient safety by launching new initiatives and guidance, including a new public-private partnership focused on patient safety. We’re helping HHS improve health care oversight and hold hospitals and providers accountable for the care they provide.”
Most recently, Demetri played an integral role in the development and release of the new HHS-OIG Adverse Events Toolkits: Medical Record Review Methodology and Clinical Guidance for Identifying Patient Harm. For the past year, he led a project team in creating the toolkits based on HHS-OIG’s body of work on adverse events spanning the last 15 years. This effort involved close collaboration with a team of leading physicians and other national experts in the field. The now publicly available toolkits are designed to aid health care professionals and decision-makers in identifying and preventing harm to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other inpatient settings.
Adverse events are a public health challenge that Demetri and his team continue to address daily. The work doesn’t end when toolkits and reports are published—they also engage with stakeholders and experts nationwide to stay up-to-date on emerging threats to patient safety. This has included meeting with White House officials and prominent patient safety groups to assess the extent and complexity of these issues. The team is currently examining gaps in hospitals’ identification of patient harm and other nationwide challenges to patient safety and quality of care.
HHS-OIG Lifelong Learning and Mentorship
HHS-OIG’s vision to “drive positive change in HHS programs and in the lives of the people served by these programs” isn’t the only reason Demetri values being an employee here. He also highlighted the agency’s culture of collaboration, mentorship, and lifelong learning as factors that make it one of the best places to work in government. “I’ve had amazing mentors at the Office of Evaluation and Inspections. From tough research and data questions to simple advice, I could call them anytime.” Recently, that’s come full circle for Demetri as he now mentors new staff and interns.
Life Outside of the Office
Demetri exudes a humble, intelligent, and easy-going nature. It only makes sense that he’s also family oriented, not minding the long trip to see his loved ones from Dallas in North Texas to his hometown of McAllen in the southern tip of the state.
In Dallas, when he’s not focused on finding solutions to some of the most significant issues in health care oversight, you can find Demetri hiking and playing games with friends or unwinding by watching the latest trending TV series and films. One of his favorite places in the Greater Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area is White Rock Lake, where he enjoys scenic walks.