Walmart's chief medical officer announces plans to leave role

The sign at the front of a Walmart store
An internal memo from Walmart Health and Wellness Executive Vice President Cheryl Pegus, M.D., confirmed Walmart's chief medical officer Tom Van Gilder, M.D., is leaving to "first to enjoy the Wisconsin spring thaw with his family and then pursue new opportunities." (Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock)

Walmart's chief medical officer is leaving the role, the retailer announced in an internal memo to health and wellness associates Tuesday.

Tom Van Gilder, M.D., who was Walmart U.S.’s first full-time chief medical officer, will leave the company March 15, according to the memo provided to Fierce Healthcare. The news of Van Gilder's departure was first reported by Insider

The memo from Walmart Health and Wellness Executive Vice President Cheryl Pegus, M.D., said Van Gilder was leaving to "first to enjoy the Wisconsin spring thaw with his family and then pursue new opportunities."

Officials did not respond to a question regarding whether his departure indicates any changes in strategy for Walmart. They also did not comment on the plan for finding his replacement.

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In her memo, Pegus said Van Gilder arrived as the clinical leader for what became Walmart Health and led its first clinical model design, including its Community Health Worker program. She credited him with advising the entire company during the pandemic to "guide how we supported our associates, protected our customers, handled state mandates, enacted our remote work policy, and how we rolled out testing and vaccinations," Pegus wrote. 

Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, made a splash more than a year ago as it opened the first of its Walmart Health clinics in Georgia.

Walmart Health has since grown to include plans to open least 22 such locations in Georgia, Florida, Illinois and Arkansas by the end of 2021. Walmart has also made a push into health insurance by launching a Medicare-focused brokerage and teaming with Clover Health on co-branded Medicare Advantage plans.