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March 25, 2023

Public health officer moving on to same role in neighboring county

Dr. Gail Newel is moving on from her role as public health officer in San Benito County to take on the same position in Santa Cruz County where she resides.

Newel took on the local position in February 2017. She has been instrumental in such efforts as the San Benito County Opioid Task Force and pushing forward government initiatives like the recently enacted smoke-free dining ordinance in San Juan Bautista.

The position in Santa Cruz County is full time, while San Benito County Public Health Services is now recruiting for a full-time public health officer as well.

Newel, meanwhile, practiced locally while here as an obstetrician-gynecologist.

The following is a statement from Newel released through Public Health:

“It has been my privilege to serve San Benito County as its Health Officer for the past two and a half years. The people of San Benito County are rightfully proud of their beautiful home, and are dedicated to making it a healthier place for individuals, families and the greater community. I have especially enjoyed being part of collaborative efforts which are working to further the health and wellbeing of the community.  My colleagues at San Benito County Public Health Services are truly committed to their mission of making it possible for every individual to reach their healthiest potential. It has been a pleasure to work with each of them. I look forward to being a good neighbor as I assume the role of Health Officer in Santa Cruz County, and look forward to strengthening regional initiatives on which we can work cooperatively. Thank you to all who have helped to make my tenure in San Benito County a fruitful time.”

Deputy Director from Public Health Services Lynn Mello had this to say in a statement:

“Dr. Newell has been an incredible asset to San Benito County and our department, bringing her years of medical experience, research experience, and personal passion for health equity to move us forward in improving the wellbeing of all individuals in our county. Public Health is working with county administration to recruit a new, full-time Health Officer in accordance with the California Department of Public Health’s recent change that requires local health jurisdictions to increase the position to a full-time equivalent. As public emergencies grow more frequent and larger in scale, the opioid epidemic continues, diabetes and chronic disease rates increase, there is an increased need for the constant vigilance and expertise of a full-time health officer in all counties.”