Health Beyond Health Care: Tackling the Root Causes of Poor Health

Feature Story
Winston Wong, MD, leading a Q&A session
Winston Wong, MD, leads a Q&A session with Pedro Noguera, PhD, and Oscar Menjivar.

Good health goes beyond medical care. In fact, clinical care influences only about 20 percent of people’s health. The remaining 80 percent is affected by other nonmedical factors, such as healthy behaviors, social and economic influences, and environmental conditions. This year, the 20th Annual UCLA Kaiser Permanente Health Equity Symposium focused on addressing these nonmedical factors and potential solutions to removing barriers to good health in under-resourced communities.

The daylong event, “Health Beyond Health Care: Tackling the Root Causes of Poor Health,” recently convened approximately 350 committed community stakeholders in public health, education, the nonprofit sector, health care, and more. Presenters from various local organizations and institutions enthusiastically shared their experiences on programs, policies, and strategies to improve health and equity. Interactive panel discussions explored more deeply the event’s timely topics ranging from economic security and racial disparities in education, to wellness in the workplace and homelessness.

“This symposium brought together not just academicians and researchers working in this arena, but the people who are doing the work at the neighborhood level to address what is causing the pain and suffering we see in the community as a result of poor health outcomes,” said Winston Wong, MD, medical director, Community Health, and director, Disparities Improvement and Quality Initiatives, Kaiser Permanente. “Today’s free event was also about hope and developing solutions to create a more just and equitable health care system.”

For more comments from Dr. Wong and other presenters and/or attendees at the free symposium held at the Center at Cathedral Plaza in Los Angeles, please see the short videos in the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Health Equity Symposium Playlist.

For more information on the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity, visit

The 20th Annual UCLA Kaiser Permanente Health Equity Symposium featured the following presenters:

  • Celina Alvarez, Executive Director, Housing Works California
  • Roshan Bastani, PhD, Professor, Fielding School of Public Health, and Director, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity, UCLA
  • Veronica Flores, MA, Chief Executive Officer, Community Health Councils
  • Michael Jerrett, PhD, Professor and Chair, Environmental Health Sciences, and Director, UCLA Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
  • Michael Lens, PhD, Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Public Policy, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
  • Oscar Menjivar, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, TXT: Teens Exploring Technology
  • Mandy Muenzer, MA, ACE, FITWELL Educator and Instructor, UCLA Recreation
  • Pedro Noguera, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Education Faculty Director, Center for the Transformation of Schools, UCLA
  • Andrea Sotomayor, Manager, Western Region, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City
  • Elizabeth Trombley, MPH, Manager, Upstream Community Health, Kaiser Permanente Southern California
  • Abel Valenzuela Jr., PhD, Professor and Director, UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Immigration Policy, UCLA
  • Winston Wong, MD, MS, Medical Director, Community Health, and Director, Disparities Improvement and Quality Initiatives, Kaiser Permanente

In addition, C.L. Oldham from Get Lit wrote and performed the spoken word poem, “Extended Vacation in Other People’s Homes.”