On Wednesday, March 17, PAM 2030 (Population & Public Policy) welcomed a guest speaker, Dr. Cheryl Pegus, who currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Health and Wellness for Walmart. Trained at Weill Cornell Medical College as a cardiologist, Dr. Pegus sits on the board of the American Heart Association, and is also the immediate past board chair for the Association of Black Cardiologists. Dr. Pegus also has a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School.
Dr. Pegus was invited to speak with PAM 2030 about her work in addressing health care disparities, as she increasingly has sought to use her experience as a physician and her public health expertise to better address social disparities in health and wellness. After working in private practice as a cardiologist, Dr. Pegus joined Pfizer, where she focused on the development of clinical protocols and early disease management programs. She also worked at Aetna on predictive analytics, health equity initiatives, and women’s health. She also was the first chief medical officer at Walgreens, and has also served as President of consumer health solutions and chief medical officer at Cambia Health solutions, where she was responsible for clinical and consumer strategy to increase access to affordable, equitable care.
Having joined Walmart in December, Dr. Pegus will be leading health and wellness across the many pharmacies located in Walmart stores. She applies her expertise as a physician and a public health expert to better target the distribution of vaccines to reach underserved populations. After describing some of the challenges many Americans face in accessing equitable health care, Dr. Pegus explained some of the ways data can be targeted to serve populations at risk. Her talk highlighted the ways that a demographic understanding of health challenges can be utilized to better target outreach to improve health equity.
Dr. Pegus retains her ties to cardiology, and is a co-founder of A New Beat, an organization dedicated to improving the cardiovascular health and careers of women and under-represented minorities. She has recently published several articles on structural racism as a driver of health disparities, and a position paper from the Association of Black Cardiologists on solutions to improve Black maternal health. She and Professor Sassler were college roommates at Brandeis University, where she completed her undergraduate degree.