Claudia Martorell, MD, MPH


Director and Principal Investigator, The Research Institute, Springfield, MA

Dr. Claudia Martorell is a bilingual, board-certified, Infectious Diseases specialist who serves a patient population with HIV, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis B in Springfield, MA. Dr. Martorell is the former TB Control Officer for the City of Boston, and the former Medical Director of the Communicable Disease Control of the Boston Public Health Commission. She is also a HIV and Hepatitis C clinical investigator. As the Director of The Research Institute, she focuses research towards HIV and Hepatitis C/B in minority populations. Dr. Martorell is an Investigator of the Integrated Minority AIDS Network Clinical Investigators Group (IMANi). She is the former Associate Director of Research for the Community Research Initiative of New England. Dr. Martorell’s published work includes “Be Safe: A Cultural Competency Model for Hispanic Americans” for the National Minority AIDS Education and Training Center. Dr. Martorell received the 2007 Severo Ochoa Award for outstanding contribution to eradicating HIV/AIDS in the minority community given at the 4th Annual National Summit on Health Disparities, and the 2004 American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation Excellence in Medicine Award. Dr. Martorell provides outreach and education on HIV/Hepatitis to underserved communities and serves in leadership positions in local and national organizations.

Dr. Martorell received her medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in 1998, and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA in 2001. As a CFHU Fellow, she received an M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2004.






Legislative Oversight Hearing on Health Disparities among Hispanic Americans in Massachusetts


According to the U.S. Census, Hispanics are now the largest ethnic group in the country, numbering nearly 40 million or 14 percent of the U.S. population. Hispanics are the largest minority group and the second fastest growing ethnic minority population group in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, Hispanic mothers born in the Continental U.S. had a higher risk profile than Hispanic mothers born elsewhere, the HIV death rate for Hispanics (14.7) is 7x higher than that of whites (2.2) per 100,000 – 2001, Hispanic teen birth rate is 520% higher than white non-Hispanic (99.7 vs. 16.1), Hispanic infant mortality rate is 32 % higher than white non-Hispanic (5.8 deaths/1,000 live births vs. 4.4), Hispanics are 185% more likely to be uninsured than white non-Hispanics (20.5% vs. 7.2%), Hispanics are 106% more likely not to seek care than white-non Hispanics (13.0% vs. 6.3%), and Puerto Ricans have the highest risk profile among Hispanics. Leading causes of disease and/or death include cancer, heart disease, injuries, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, obesity, mental health, and asthma.


The Joint Committee on Health Care of the Massachusetts House of Representatives hosted three statewide legislative oversight hearings to address racial and ethnic health disparities in Massachusetts among Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans. The Hearing among Hispanic Americans was on April 16, 2004 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Court Room of the Western New England College School of Law’s Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs in Springfield, Massachusetts. The mission of the hearing was to increase awareness of the health care disparities that affect the Hispanic American community in Massachusetts, explain reasons contributing to  health disparities, and propose legislative health policy interventions to address disparities. Experts throughout the State provided testimony in topics such as mental health, physician diversity, health status of Latinos in Boston, Springfield, and Holyoke, barriers to health care in Community Health Centers and Hospitals, oral health, the homeless/immigrant population, and substance abuse among others.


Barriers to health care among the Latino population include lack of access to health care including the uninsured; lack of physician diversity and cultural competence with emphasis on the lack of bilingual staff and trained translators; and the presence of prejudice, bias, and stereotypes. Other factors that contribute to disparities include lack of valid or availability of research data; deficiencies in data collection regarding race, ethnicity and language spoken; distrust in health care providers and health care system. Health policy recommendations include: to provide health care insurance for all in  Massachusetts;  increase diversity and leadership of the health care workforce; standardize data collection on race/ethnicity/language; standardize and develop Statewide clinical guidelines and quality standards; integrate cross-cultural education into the health professions;  fund services of non-physician personnel such as trained translators, home telemonitoring of chronic conditions; fund, promote and support the use of community health centers, case management services, and multidisciplinary teams; increase funding for health promotion and prevention programs; provide and promote patient education, training  and empowerment.


Major disparities remain in Massachusetts affecting the Hispanic community. There are Racial/Ethnic disparities consistently found across a wide range of health care settings, disease areas, and clinical services. It is urgent to address the significant geographic, economic, racial and ethnic disparities in access to medically necessary services and the resulting disparities in medical outcomes in Massachusetts. A multicultural, multi-service and multidisciplinary approach is needed to address health disparities. It is essential to address the fact that failure to prevent, detect, and provide early and culturally competent treatment for serious illnesses results in preventable hospitalizations and increased high cost medical services which constitutes a serious burden and inefficiency in the State’s health care system.

Faculty Preceptors:

Charlene Deloach, JD, Chief of Staff for Chairman and Peter J. Koutujian, JD, Chairman Joint Committee on Health-Massachusetts House of Representatives