First Latino CAO at Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center shares his story

Ozzie Martinez attributes his success in the public health field to his parents who came from Mexico.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- "I'm the proud son of immigrants and I say that with great pride because both my parents had humble beginnings in Mexico," said Ozzie Martinez, Chief Administrative Officer at Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center.

Martinez says you may have heard of the fable called "The Three Little Pigs," but his family's version of the story is slightly different.

It started in Mexico, where Ozzie's dad, then a young boy, worked in the fields alongside his father, Ozzie's grandfather.

Martinez says his father was a hard worker and often went to a nearby train station to help people with their luggage. He made money in tips and most of that went to his parents, but some of that money was used to buy a piglet.

Martinez explained, "He became a business entrepreneur and sold it. He bought two more piglets and so this process continued until my father, at age nine, made enough money that he actually helped his whole family transition from a rural area in Mexico into the city."

Martinez says his father came to the United States at age 16 and started to work at a restaurant. He met Ozzie's mother, got married and started a family.

Growing up with stories like that, Martinez says made him feel more confident.

He says he learned to be bold, to take risks and to have a vision.

Education was always stressed as a priority at home.

Martinez was the first person in his family to go to high school.

He graduated from Chapman University and then went to UCLA for a master's degree in public health.

"He started off as an intern when he was going to UCLA and then to work from that, to a program specialist and now as the first Latino C.A.O. for Kaiser Permanente," said Melissa Martinez, his wife.

Martinez says he chose his career path because he saw his mother go through depression after his grandfather passed away.

"During that time we didn't have any health insurance. So, we didn't grow up with preventative care or any of those things. So from a very young age, I wanted to go into medicine. I thought I was going to become a physician and then when I experienced what my mom experienced, I really felt like I could have an impact at the systems level," Martinez said.

"I think it's important to dream and its sometimes difficult to not see people who look like us in positions and roles and so you know, I learned at a very young age that you can be bold, that you can still have that sense of kindness to bring to any position you want to have," Martinez said.

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