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, Third Year, Public Health

Angel Chukwu

Angel Chukwu, Masters, Public Health, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences

Ria Diddee

Ria Diddee, Senior, Health Communications

Justin Fatoohi

Justin Fatoohi, Current MPH Candidate, BS in Chemistry from San Diego State University

Iñigo Isusi

Iñigo Isusi, Senior, Business Administrations, Human Resources

Serena Montaño

Serena Montaño, Third Year, Political Science & Economic Quantitative Analysis

Sarah Moore

Sarah Moore, Senior, Communications

Marisela Reyes Pentico

Marisela Reyes Pentico, Senior, Health Communication

Isabella Sardo

Isabella Sardo, Third-year, Public Health

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