Walmart Takes Lead on Another Medical Crisis

Gina Acosta
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Walmart Takes Lead on Another Medical Crisis
So far, Walmart has opened four health care centers, all in the south.

Walmart is taking the lead on the next health care crisis to hit the United States: people avoiding routine medical care due to coronavirus fears.

As social-distancing measures keep more Americans at home, the retailer is making health care resources accessible for all via Walmart Wellness Live, a free online wellness event. This marks the first time Walmart is hosting a health care forum online, as Walmart Wellness Days and other in-store activities are limited during the pandemic.

“We are worried about a secondary health crisis, as many people put off routine medical care while they social distance during the pandemic. But there are simple, preventive measures that can help manage many of these health issues,” said Dr. Tom Van Gilder, chief medical officer at Walmart. “Our goal is to empower every American to take small steps to maximize their health from home, whether it’s a simple ingredient swap, new exercise or tools to understand how to focus on health as a family.”

Walmart Wellness Live will take place Friday, Aug. 28 through Sunday, Aug. 30, and consist of three days of health care counseling sessions such as:

  • Friday, Aug. 28 – Nutritional Health: This session features singer Patti LaBelle, sharing her personal journey with diabetes, with an emphasis on how to manage symptoms through diet and exercise. This session will help customers understand diabetes issues, whether they're at risk or living with type 2 diabetes.
  • Saturday, Aug. 29 – Heart Health: Customers will hear from cardiologist and Univision Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Juan Rivera, who will share resources on heart health, such as how customers can move and eat their way to lower blood pressure. Rivera’s session will demonstrate how simple it can be to make meaningful health changes through diet and exercise.
  • Sunday, Aug. 30 – Mental Health: The final day of Walmart Wellness Live features Dr. Christine Crawford, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, as she discusses how to talk to family members about mental health needs. Crawford will also share why it’s important for customers to be transparent and ask for help when needed, as well as an overview of how to understand, manage and treat anxiety.

The online health conference is just the latest move from Walmart on the health care front. In July, the company revealed that its Walmart Health concept will expand to Florida next year. The centers offer key health care services at low, transparent services, regardless of whether patients are insured. Walmart has opened four of the health care centers so far.

“The combined crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession and subsequent loss of health insurance for millions of Americans have reinforced the vulnerabilities of our health care system,” noted Sean Slovenski, SVP and president, health and wellness, Walmart U.S., in a blog post. “At Walmart, we understand that this means our customers need us now, more than ever. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and are committed to helping our customers save money while living better – and healthier.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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