Walmart just lost its top health official. It's a blow as the retailer tries to compete with Amazon and win a bigger slice of the healthcare industry.
- Dr. Cheryl Pegus joined Walmart as executive vice president for health and wellness in December 2020.
- Her departure comes as Walmart has faced challenges rolling out health clinics nationwide.
The carousel of executives coming and going from Walmart's struggling health division is taking another turn.
Dr. Cheryl Pegus, Walmart's executive vice president for health and wellness, is taking on a role as a managing director for JPMorgan's Morgan Health division, Bloomberg first reported on Sunday.
Pegus will work on Morgan Health's mission of improving employer-sponsored healthcare and investing in $250 million in promising health companies, according to a release. She will continue to serve as a senior advisor for Walmart.
Pegus's departure comes as Walmart's health division – which has seen numerous executive departures over the past few years – had faced significant challenges on reaching its ambitious goal of establishing 4,000 health clinics across the country by 2029. As of October 14, Walmart Health opened 32 clinics across five states. It's planning to open 16 new location in Florida in 2023.
The move is a major blow as Walmart competes with the likes of Amazon, CVS and Walgreens to win a bigger slice of the lucrative $4.3 trillion health care industry.
What's next for Walmart Health
Though Walmart Health will no longer operate with its leader of about two years, company executives are still optimistic about the performance of the business segment.
John Furner, Walmart US president and CEO, told Insider in a statement in response to Pegus's leaving that he is "excited about the momentum we have in Health & Wellness and our ability to make an impact on the access and affordability of healthcare in our communities."
"The team is well-positioned to execute our compelling strategy of healthcare transformation," Furner said. "We are grateful to Dr. Pegus for advancing our mission of helping people live better and healthier, and we look forward to continuing to work with her in the future."
A Walmart spokesperson did not answer a question about who will be Pegus's successor.
Pegus has more than 20 years of experience in health care, most recently serving as chief medical officer at Cambia Health Solution before joining Walmart in December 2020. During her tenure at Walmart, Pegus expanded Walmart's virtual health offering through the acquisition of MeMD and helped form the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute to create greater equity in and access to clinical trial participation and research across the country.
"Health care innovation continues to be very much needed, and I am excited to support this incredible Morgan Health team in accelerating offerings that improve outcomes," Pegus said in a statement.
Dan Mendelson, CEO of Morgan Health, said in a statement that Pegus is "one of the most respected leaders in health care and brings clinical and health care business expertise that will help accelerate the next phase of Morgan Health's strategy around population health."
Walmart's health leadership has been in flux
Though the move is to Morgan Health's gain, it certainly creates a hiccup for Walmart Health, which continues to face major challenges with executive departures.
Marcus Osborne, the previous head of Walmart Health Clinics, announced he left the company at the start of the year. With his departure, the five executives who spearheaded the original design of the clinics have left the company.
This includes Sean Slovenski, a top Walmart Health executive who left in August 2020; Karim Bennis, one of Walmart's chief operating officers for health and wellness; Dr. Thomas Van Gilder, the company's former chief medical officer; and Phil Suiter, who served as the company's chief wellness officer.
In response to these departures, Pegus bolstered the team by bringing external health care experts, including Dr. David Carmouche, who now serves as Walmart's senior vice president of omnichannel care, and Dr. John Wigneswaran, the company's chief medical officer.
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