Meet the first public health advisor for the City of Phoenix
Nicole Dupuis-Witt spoke to Arizona’s Family in her first interview since starting the job.
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of our daily lives and put a spotlight on public health. It also meant Phoenix city leaders had to seek expertise from outside the office.
Now for the first time the city of Phoenix has hired it’s own permanent, full-time public health advisor. Nicole Dupuis-Witt started the job a few weeks ago and has worked in public health for more than 15 years. Dupuis-Witt is coming to Arizona from Ontario, Canada where she was the CEO for a county health unit during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dupuis-Witt does have ties to the Valley. She got her undergraduate degree in anthropology from Arizona State University. Part of her new job will be looking at what some of the important health issues are in Phoenix and collaborating with partners in the community.
Ultimately Dupuis-Witt says her biggest goal and challenge will be to determine the priorities for not just the city as a whole, but individual neighborhoods. “The health priorities for one neighborhood are certainly going to be different than the health priorities for another. And I think our job will be to work with the council and the city manager and the community to determine what those are,” she said.
That includes focusing on mental health, opioid use and substance abuse and food insecurity, she said.
“I think it [the COVID-19 pandemic] put a spotlight on public health. And you know we always say that public health is doing their job when nobody knows that we’re doing our job. So if public health is working well, everybody is healthy and safe and you don’t... we’re behind the scenes,” Dupuis-Witt said.
What can Phoenicians expect from the office? Dupuis-Witt says messaging will be really important. The pandemic taught us the importance of health literacy, she says, so we can expect more communication from public health officials as well.
The Phoenix City Council approved the position in April 2022.
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