Walmart is working to improve access to affordable healthcare and mental health in several key Florida communities by expanding a new program, Walmart Health, into 30 of its stores in the Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando areas.
Walmart Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations Monesia Brown discussed Walmart Health this week at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Prosperity and Economic Opportunity Solution Summit. The lack of access to affordable healthcare is cited by the Chamber as one of the root causes of poverty in Florida.
Brown explained the concept for Walmart Health came about following a series of townhall meeting across the country to determine the struggles and needs facing the communities Walmart serves.
“We learned that health care access is a huge pain point,” she said, “and it doesn’t matter what the community looks like. So, we ventured down this path to launch what we call Walmart Health, which is bringing a primary care health care service in into our store locations.”
Walmart Health services include primary care, x-rays, dental care, and mental health.
Brown said the launch of Walmart Health in just a few states a couple of years ago drew the attention of the then Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, who Brown said reached out to Walmart saying she knew about the program and wanted to bring it to Florida.
Brown quoted Mayhew as saying, “We have people that need it. Our Medicaid population is desperate to get access and we know that they can get to a Walmart. We need your help.”
Brown credited Mayhew with convincing Walmart’s leadership team that this was an important investment for Florida.
Walmart now has plans to open a total of 30 Walmart Health centers in the Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa metro markets by the end of this year.
“We are really excited about it. It’s kind of the flagship of the state,” said Brown. “We’re launching a whole fleet of Walmart Health initiatives and we’re really looking at how we can make access easy.”
Brown explained that Walmart Health pricing will be a flat fee that is affordable and transparent. They take cash and insurance.
She said one of the hidden benefits is that the doctors, dentists, and mental health providers are right at the Walmart store which makes it easy, not just for a mom to drop off her child at the dentist while shopping, but it also allows a victim of domestic violence to slip away to meet with a mental health counselor by simply telling her spouse or partner she’s going to Walmart to pick up some milk.
“She walks into a Walmart Clinic, its separate, but connected in most cases. There’s a receptionist, like, you’re walking into a doctor’s office and you say, I’m here for my appointment, (but we also take walk-ins) and she can go and meet with someone right there on site and no, one ever has to know why she’s there,” Brown said.
Walmart is focusing first on locations in Jacksonville and then Tampa and Orlando. According to Walmart’s Corporate website, the retailer expects to build seven clinics total in Jacksonville. The first two Jacksonville Walmart Health centers are currently under construction and are scheduled to open soon.
he first Walmart Health center opened in Dallas, Georgia in September 2019. There are currently more than 20 clinics in Arkansas, Georgia and Illinois.
“We recognize we can make an impact by increasing access to quality, affordable and convenient healthcare as we invest millions of dollars and expand Walmart Health into Florida, which is home to the second highest number of Walmart stores in the country (384 stores),” said corporate officials in a release on the expansion.
Whats going to happen to the small private primary care clinics?