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Walgreens makes strong showing at Black Women’s Expo

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Friday announced it is hosting a Walgreens Pavilion at The Black Women’s Expo this weekend at McCormick Place. Activities will include free health screenings from the AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour bus, one-on-one health consultations, free samples of popular beauty products and networking opportunities for diverse companies interested in doing business with Walgreens. Flu shots also will be available for $10.

In an effort to reach as many women as possible with valuable healthcare information, Walgreens chief medical officer Cheryl Pegus will lead a series of speed dating-style health consultations allowing attendees to receive private, one-on-one sessions with healthcare professionals. Participants will have an opportunity to learn more about the health issues most relevant to African-American women, including diabetes prevention and management, heart health, fitness, nutrition, HIV/AIDS testing and prevention and fibroids.

In addition, Pegus will discuss what every woman should know about her health on the expo’s main stage at 3 p.m. on both days.

“Women of color are well aware that their own health is important for the health of their families,” Pegus stated. “The more they know about diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and easy ways to stay fit, the better it is for our communities.”

In addition to pharmacy, health and wellness services, Walgreens will host its first-ever “Walgreens Beauty Bar,” featuring many of the brands that have helped the drug store chain build its strong heritage in beauty. Representatives from such brands as Olay, Revlon, Motions, Ambi and Luster’s, as well as new offerings including SheaMoisture, will be on hand to offer free samples and demonstrations. Shannon Petree, VP and general merchandise manager for Walgreens beauty and personal care division, will speak on the changing face of the beauty shopper and why beauty companies are launching more products and initiatives than ever targeted at African-American consumers.

The first 1,500 women to register in advance for the Walgreens Beauty Bar presentation will receive a Walgreens Community Corner gift bag designed by Chicago artist Andre Guichard featuring products from more than 20 Walgreens suppliers. Drawings for other prizes will take place throughout the weekend.

Another main focus for the Walgreens Pavilion will be the company’s commitment to nurturing diverse businesses. On Saturday at 11:30 a.m. from the expo’s main stage, Walgreens chief diversity officer Steve Pemberton will discuss Walgreens’ supplier diversity and inclusion initiatives, including its “Community Corner” program designed to showcase products from diverse vendor partners and “The Power of Alignment,” an innovative initiative aimed at connecting Walgreens diverse service providers with its vendor base.

“We are extremely proud of the work we do to support economic development in the diverse communities we serve,” Pemberton said. “Our efforts continue to open doors and help minority-owned, women-owned and other diverse businesses uncover new opportunities. Our sponsorship of The Black Women’s Expo is no exception," he added. "This weekend, several of our African American vendor partners will be featured alongside some of the world’s most recognizable brands. We are committed to expanding our network of diverse suppliers and look forward to making connections with potential partners during the expo.”

For more information on Walgreens Supplier Diversity, visit Walgreens.com/supplierdiversity.
 

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California healthcare groups urge CMS to reject cuts to Medi-Cal program

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — The Alliance for Patient Care, a coalition of healthcare providers, health plans, patient advocates and others working together to protect access to care in California’s Medi-Cal (Medicaid) program, headed to Washington, D.C., to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and members of Congress to reject California’s proposed cut to the state’s Medi-Cal program, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

In May, the coalition sent a letter to CMS urging the agency to reject a proposed plan submitted by the state of California, which would drastically cut Medi-Cal. The letter was submitted in response to the passage of Assembly Bill 97, which includes a 10% reduction in Medi-Cal payment rates to physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and other providers, patient co-payments ($50 per ER visit, $5 per physician visit, $100 per day in the hospital), and a limit of seven physician office visits per year. Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., signed the legislation, which needs approval from CMS in order to take effect.

Because the California Medi-Cal rates are extremely low, many providers cannot afford to participate. For instance, half of all California physicians don’t participate in the program and thus, 56% of Medi-Cal patients report difficulty finding a physician. Kaiser State Health Facts lists California as the lowest reimbursed state in the nation. The coalition argues that co-payments and arbitrary limits on services will create additional barriers for patients seeking care and ultimately, they will be forced to delay care or use emergency rooms for basic health services.

Currently, Medi-Cal is the source of health care for 1-in-5 Californians (about 7 million). With the implementation of healthcare reform right around the corner, another 3 million uninsured soon will be added to the state’s Medi-Cal program.

Coalition participants who met with leaders in Washington include NACDS, the California Pharmacists Association and the California Association of Health Plans.

In 2008, a similar plan was submitted, proposing to cut the reimbursement of all Medi-Cal providers. Recognizing that this reduction would have threatened Medi-Cal beneficiaries’ access to healthcare services, CMS rejected the plan in November 2010.

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Report: Fresh & Easy to open smaller-format stores

BY Allison Cerra

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Rumors are swirling that Tesco’s U.S. division, Fresh & Easy, has signed on to open smaller-format stores.

The grocery store chain, which operates stores in California, Arizona and Nevada, plans to test a new concept, called Fresh & Easy Express, in San Pedro, Calif., according to blog Fresh & Easy Buzz. The report also said that the new format will be in the 4,000-sq.-ft. range, compared with its typical 10,000-sq.-ft. footprint.

For more, go to Freshneasybuzz.blogspot.com.

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