About the Podcast

Our podcast seeks to explore Health Policy – locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally. There are podcasts for medicine and health, and podcasts for policy. But until this podcast, none have been devoted to discussing solely health policy.

Since the podcast is created at a California public university, it will deal with many issues affecting Californians. But since the work of the faculty and students spans the globe, it will allow for educating the public about the great impact that the School of Public Health has in communities around the world.

Our team hopes to provide clarity to many issues, shed light on decision making and provide timely consideration of key issues affecting not only Californians but any listener.

Our Team

Our Host

Gary Rotto

Gary Rotto

The Podcast is moderated by Gary Rotto, Lecturer in the School of Public Health with a specialization in Medi-Cal policy and the service delivery system in Southern California. Mr. Rotto brings an unparalleled background in health policy to the air with experience directing policy for elected officials at the State, County and City levels of government. For over 10 years, he has impacted health policy on behalf of community health centers. During the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he was a frequent guest on the KPBS program “Midday Edition” helping to unpack the many moving parts of the ACA and how the number of uninsured was decreasing with each action. He is a trusted advisor to candidates across the country as they seek unbiased information from which to create their positions on the US healthcare system.

Ashland Aldrich
Ashland Aldrich, Senior, Public Health
My name is Ashland Aldrich, and I am in my fourth year of undergraduate studies, majoring in Public Health. My hometown is Roseville, CA and a few of my favorite self-care activities include doing yoga, going to the beach, and finding some of the best coffee shops. After graduation I plan on attending graduate school for Occupational Therapy, I am passionate about working with kids in particular so I plan on a focus in Pediatric Occupational Therapy. The reason I was drawn to this podcast is because I want to get to know the field of Public Health a little better by looking at it from different perspectives, and that is exactly what this podcast does!
Nicole Bozick

Nicole Bozick, Senior, Health Communication
I am a native San Diegan and avid beach-goer. I love all things outdoors and believe advocating for the health of myself and others is the foundation for fulfilling life. Being a small part of the “If I Could Change One Thing” podcast is an incredible opportunity to gain skills and knowledge that will carry me through my final year at SDSU and into my career.

Joanna Conde

Joanna Conde, 1st year in the Masters of Public Health Program, Concentration in Epidemiology
Hello, my name is Joanna and I am a first year graduate student pursuing my Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology here at SDSU. I’ve had prior experience working in the public health field after receiving my Bachelors of Science in Health Science: Community Health Education. I am excited to join the “If I Could Change One Thing” Podcast Team in hopes to expand to a wider audience discussing important public health/public policy topics.

Georgina Davis

Georgina David, Third year, Public Health
Hello! I am currently a third-year majoring in Public Health and minoring in Women’s Studies and French. I plan on working in the field of women’s health, ideally with an emphasis on sexual health and sexual harassment and violence prevention. This is my first year volunteering with the public health podcast, “If I Could Change One Thing...” and I am truly excited to be part of a team that is dedicated to educating our communities and providing new ideas, perspectives, and health content!

Isabel Gutierrez

Isabel Gutierrez, Senior, Public Health
I aspire to become a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, continuing to advocate and educate communities about aging. I am excited to start interning with the "If I Could Change One Thing..." podcast team, as my passion for public health policy and public health education grows!

Julianna Lua

Julianna Lua, Senior, Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Public Health, Biology, and Spanish
My name is Julianna Lua and I am from the Central Valley. I am currently a fourth year at San Diego State majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Public Health, Biology, and Spanish. I enjoy traveling and love to be on the water when the weather is right. I have been involved in Public Health since 2018 both in the classroom and in the community and wanted to continue my journey. I joined this podcast with a desire to apply myself further and to stay up to date with the current changes that affect community health. I hope to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant, and believe it is extremely important to understand health policy and its effects.

Alexa Mercado

Alexa Mercado, Sophomore, Public Health.
I’m a full-time student studying Public Health with some prior experience working with community members and organizations in San Diego. I joined the “If I Could Change One Thing” podcast in order to grow and learn more about public health while participating in a student-led health policy podcast.

Catalina Torres

Catalina Torres, Senior, Public Health, She/Her/Hers
I am a San Diego native and love being outside with a good book. I have a clinical background in health, having worked as an EMT on a city ambulance and at a hospital. I plan on getting a Master’s Degree in Biostatistics and working with health data to bridge the gap between quality healthcare and communities in need. I am excited to be a part of the important conversations about health that the team of “If I Could Change One Thing” is bringing to the public.

Andy Velez

Andy Velez, Senior, Public Health
My name’s Andy; I’m 23 and a senior in the School of Public Health. From here, I hope to attend graduate school, to obtain my Master’s in Public Health with a focus on HIV and Immunology. Currently, I work as an EMT-B for different hospitals and organizations. My end goal is to pursue medicine at the genetic level, helping to recode and eradicate deadly viruses.

Season One

Episode One

How do you change Health Policy? What is the role of the School in preparing its students to make an impact through policy development? In this inaugural episode, Dr. Hala Madanat, Director of the School of Public Health talks about how she envisions the podcast fitting in the work of the School as well as how the podcast will help to inform and engage the SDSU community. As an example of the work of the faculty and students, Dr. Madanat, who was recently named the 2020 Albert W. Johnson University Research Lecturer, discusses her work in research trends in globalization, its impact on nutrition and policy-making based on her research.

Episode One of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Two

Imagine growing up in the Coachella Valley before the City of Coachella was known as it is today.  How have things changed?  How do you fight for better health for the underserved in the community?  Now taking on the role of Chairman of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and trying to govern during a pandemic.   Victor Manuel Perez talks about Coachella, COVID-19 and providing steady, consensus but data driven leadership during these unsettling times.

Episode Two of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Three

As Chair of the Family Medicine Department with the Riverside University Hospital System, Dr. Geoffrey Leung has always been passionate about Public Health and improving care for underserved populations.  But during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has also become one of the leaders in the “Inland Empire” for testing and interpreting models to advise health policy in the region.  Dr. Leung helps our listeners to demystify modeling as well as look to the “post-pandemic, pre-vaccine world” in which we will live.

Episode Three of If I Could Change One Thing Podcast

Episode Four

While there are many test kits on the market and available for COVID-19 testing, the kits are not all the same.  Even the approval process varies.  In this episode, we demystify the testing dilemma and discuss the difference between “FDA Approved” and “EUA”.  Dr. Christopher Foltz talks about the special testing partnership underway in the Coachella Valley and the process he championed to assure that the test kits are reliable.

Episode Four of If I Could Change One Thing Podcast


Episode Five

Our host, Gary Rotto, discusses the impacts of COVID-19 regarding food insecurity with CEO of Feeding San Diego, Vince Hall. How does food insecurity affect health outcomes? How is health policy influenced by "Social Determinants of Health"?  Learn how Feeding San Diego is addressing this aspect of health care and is responding to COVID-19 in this episode.

Episode Five of If I Could Change One Thing Podcast

Episode Six

One of the most experienced and respected health policy experts in the US.  His work has spanned Democratic and Republican Administrations, including an appointment by President Barack Obama to serve as the Region IX Director of the US Department of Health and Human Services.  His discussion with Professor Rotto is wide ranging encompassing policy making during a pandemic to relations with Native American governments.  This episode is provided in an extended format.  (What we mean is that there was so much to talk about, that it’s long!)

Episode Six of If I Could Change One Thing Podcast

Season Two

Episode One

The decision of the San Diego Unified School District to open the 2020-2021 school year is a clear break from the desire of the current Federal Administration.  But other California public school district have since announced similar plans.  In this episode we gain an understanding of what went into this policy decision.  We also learn about how the SDUSD is working with parents to that they can find a comfortable and proper role in supporting their students and teachers in online learning.

Episode One of Season Two of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Two

The Black Lives Matters movement has refocused societal attention on social justice especially for the Black community.  There is a growing awareness that Social Justice should impact more than just criminal justice reform.  Societal changes are shining a light on Health Disparities.  One area that requires more attention is the health risk for seniors in the community, especially in the Black community, due health disparities.  We'll talk about these issues in this episode.  

Episode Two of Season Two of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Three

As part of the border region, San Diegans know that heath care does not stop at artificial borders.  The situation in San Diego influences what is happening in Baja California and visa versa.  In this episode, we will talk with infectious disease physician Dr. Christian Ramers working with his colleagues in Baja on Covid-19 response.  Dr. Ramers, in his role with Family Health Centers of San Diego, is also one of the leaders in providing services those who are homeless in San Diego. He'll detail the programs provided for those previously unsheltered in San Diego as well as discuss the successes and challenges of providing services at the Convention Center for this population as part of the region's response to the pandemic.  

Episode Three of Season Two of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Four

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is the leading congressional body creating health policy. Congressman Scott Peters, who represents San Diego, Poway and Coronado in the House of Representatives, discusses his role on the Energy and Commerce Committee.  The episode details the Covid-19 pandemic faced by Congress, the impact of mental health policies, the future of telemedicine and more!

Episode Five

In this episode, host Gary Rotto speaks with Dr. Andrea Dooley, Associate Vice President for student affairs and campus diversity at San Diego State University. We explore SDSU’s leadership response to COVID-19 and how policies are created and communicated to the campus community. Looking for services available to students and faculty impacted by COVID-19.? We highlight many of those services during this episode.

Episode Five of Season Two of If I Could Change One Thing


Episode Six

T3, the Test, Trace and Treat program, seeks to provide a robust response to monitoring and addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Corrine McDaniels-Davidson, who leads this joint County-University program about both T3 as well as the larger "Communities Fighting COVID" study. 

Episode Six of Season Two of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Seven

This week, we had the opportunity to speak with Dr. “Davey” Smith, head of the division of infectious diseases and global public health at UCSD. In this episode, we address the role that San Diego has assumed as a headquarters for COVID-19 response, the framework behind Operation Warp Speed, and the roles that research, funding, and advocacy have played in the global response to COVID-19.

Episode Seven of Season Two of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Eight

County Public Health Officers have been thrust into the public limelight during the pandemic.  So, our host Gary Rotto invited one of the key Public Health Officers to discuss this important and very public role.  Dr. Erin Gustafson, the interim Public Health Officer for the County of San Bernardino virtually comes to Montezuma Mesa to discuss how public health orders are shaped as well as how the orders are enforced.  Learn about the Education and Enforcement team of San Bernardino by listening to their discussion!  What do you think is the most important recommendation that any of the Public Health Officers have made over the past 9 months? 

Episode Eight of Season Two of If I Could Change One Thing

Season Three

Episode One

We've had many interesting guests and stimulating discussion over the past year.  Our listeners have wanted to know more about many of the topics that we've covered.  So our team has picked out a few of your questions and consulted with our guests to answer those follow up questions.  Listen in to learn more!

Episode One of Season Three of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Two

In our first-ever dual-language episode, we interview Roberto Alcantar of the San Diego Chicano Federation and spokesperson for the San Diego Latino Health Coalition. Where we discuss the issue of health equity and talk about the creation of the San Diego Latino Health Coalition and the work they are doing for one of San Diego's communities hit hardest by COVID-19.

Episode Three

In this episode, we discuss three hot public health topics: mask mandates and when they may go away, the effect of the new variants on herd immunity, and the case of Johnson & Johnson and the spoiled batch of vaccines. We discuss these issues and more with Dr. Monica Gandhi, Professor of Medicine and Associate Division Chief of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine, at UCSF/San Francisco General Hospital.

Episode Three of Season Three of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Four

How does a health system prepared for natural disasters make the shift towards preparing its staff for a pandemic? How can you build resiliency in a workforce? What considerations do healthcare leaders take into account when designing a vaccine super-station? We consider all of these questions and more in our latest podcast episode with Chris Van Gorder, CEO of Scripps Health.

Episode Four of Season Three of If I Could Change One Thing

Season Four

Episode One

In this episode, we find out how a pediatrician uses his experiences to inform health policy in the California State Legislature. We talk about what must be done to assure that people can obtain vaccinations at public events without being subjected to harassment or being bullied. How did other previous events inform policy making around vaccines and the abuse of medical exemptions?

Dr. Richard Pan has devoted his career to health and helping the community. He is a practicing pediatrician, former UC Davis educator, current State Senator for California District 6 and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health.

Episode One of Season Four of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Two

In this episode, we talk with the team leading the COVID Recovery Program at Scripps Health. The San Diego based health system is one of the leaders in responding to the needs of those with lingering COVID symptoms. Even individuals with mild COVID symptoms could develop long lasting symptoms. Learn about Scripps Health research into this syndrome.

Episode Two of Season Four of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Three

In this episode, we are joined by Joseph Payne, Founder and CEO of Arcturus Therapeutics. We discuss the vaccine approval process, the many pathways to vaccine evaluation, and the successful technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Episode Three of Season Four of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Four

The VA Health System is one of the largest integrated health systems in the United States. Our hosts talk about how access to care for veterans has changed both before the pandemic and now during the pandemic. The discussion also delves into the health inequities experienced by some portions of the veteran's community. And finally, the discussion touches on the Tour4Diversity program, an effort to attract more prospective healthcare professionals from underrepresented communities.

Episode Four of Season Four of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Five

For over ten years, the State of Reform has brought healthcare leaders together on a regional basis to discuss pressing healthcare policy questions. Recorded at the State of Reform Southern California Conference, we talk with the founder of the organization about how its approach helps bring diverse interests together working on behavior health system improvement, planning for the new Medi-Cal Waiver and other pressing issues.

Episode Five of Season Four of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Six

We've had many interesting guests and stimulating discussions over the past semester. Our listener's have wanted to know more about the many topics we've covered. So our team has picked out a few of your questions and consulted with our guests to answer them.

Episode Six of Season Four of If I Could Change One Thing

Season Five

Episode One

In this episode, we will take a look at an international perspective to the COVID-19 pandemic with Israel's Dr. Nadav Davidovitch. Dr. Davidovitch is an expert in health policy research and epidemiology. During the pandemic, he has served on the national cabinet for the COVID-19 response in Israel. We talk about how the pandemic exposed the country's health inequities, and Israel's rapid response to COVID-19.

Episode One of Season Five of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Two

SDSU faculty members are engaged in research regarding the health needs and community access issues of individuals experiencing homelessness. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Jerel Calzo and Dr. Jennifer Felner, and discuss the stigmatization of individuals experiencing homelessness. Additionally, we talk about the issue to access of public restrooms.

Episode Two of Season Five of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Three

In this episode, we focus on the status of healthcare for the uninsured and underinsured. Katie Heidorn is the Executive Director of Insured the Uninsured Project, and we will discuss the implications of theCal-AIM project in the recently approved Medi-Cal waiver.

Episode Three of Season Five of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Four

In this episode, we explore the California Master Plan of Aging, and its goals and objectives to benefit the growing aging population in California. Our guest, Sarah Steenhausen, is the Deputy Director of Aging Policy, Reasearch, and Equity at the California Department of Aging. We discuss the kind of impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had on this plan, and the growing needs of older adults.

Episode Four of Season Five of If I Could Change One Thing

Episode Five

Is 3D printing the next level of innovation for hospitals and surgeons? Is 3D printing science, art, or a combination of many disciplines? In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Justin Ryan, the director of 3D Innovations Lab at Rady's Children's Hospital. Dr. Ryan talks about what it looks like to introduce these new technologies to such settings, and how they connect with pediatric care.

Episode Five of Season Five of If I Could Change One Thing