On Talk of the Bay, host Suki Wessling interviews Dr. Gail Newel about her career, which spanned a tumultuous period in public health. Dr. Newel reflects on the county’s response to Covid and how the local culture was reflected in how locals stepped up to help or to protest. Another issue that continues to dominate in public health is the opioid epidemic, the start of which coincided with great tragedy in her life. Dr. Newel relates how her son became addicted to prescription opioids, and then like many other victims of this epidemic, was forced into street drugs. His death from fentanyl poisoning illustrates how this epidemic breaks many of the stereotypes people have about illegal drug users. Finally, Dr. Newel talks about the push for health equity in the county, and why Santa Cruz is seen as a model for the rest of the state. Dr. Newel was recipient of the 2021 PEN/Benenson Courage Award along with Mimi Hall.
Photos by Schmuel Thaler and Kevin Painchaud/Lookout