WEST CHATHAM — When Patrice Gibson looks around Walmart’s new health clinic, she can’t help but be in awe. The store manager remembers when the space was nothing but dust and debris.
Now, months after vandalism forced the SuperCenter at 8331 S. Stewart Ave. to close, the store is prepared for its grand reopening — and the unveiling of its new health clinic — on Friday.
Gibson was able to offer her input on the clinic’s design and is excited for the community to see the finished product.
“I joked about thanking them for taking 7,700 square feet off my hands, but I can’t wait to see the kind of impact it will have on the community,” Gibson said.
While rumors circulated Walmart would permanently close that location after the unrest this spring and summer, CEO Doug McMillion reaffirmed the retailer’s commitment to remaining in the community, investing at least $35 million to reopen all its city stores.
The West Chatham Supercenter had been closed since June and went on a hiring spree earlier this month in preparation for its relaunch.
Everything from the layout to the hiring process was done with the community in mind, said Soujanya Pulluru, Walmart’s senior director of clinical transformation, innovation and operations.
“Anytime we open a health center, and particularly in our aim to serve communities, we want to make sure that the staff we understands the needs of the community and the resources available,” Pulluru said.
This is the 12th health center the retail giant has opened, with eight in Georgia, one in Arkansas and another on the West Side at 4650 W. North Ave.
Each clinic will have a physician, two nurse practitioners, a behavioral health specialist, a dentist and an optometrist, with ancillary staff of 50. Patients can expect to receive full-scope primary care, from physicals to chronic disease management.
Offering mental health services during this time was vital, Pulluru said.
“With COVID-19, it’s really driven mental health in this country, and it’s disproportionally affected communities of color. Having access to that care is valuable, and it was a big part of the care we wanted to provide,” she said.
Affordability was equally important for the retailer, Pulluru said, and with that in mind Walmart has instituted “transparent pricing.”
“What you see is what you get, whether you have insurance or don’t,” Pulluru said.
For Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), Walmart’s reopening is particularly meaningful as bringing the retailer to Auburn Gresham was the fight that began his political career.
“This means the world to me to bring this back, to show that multinational retailers can make it here by bringing goods and services that weren’t here at the time. That the CEO came in to guarantee us personally that they’d make a go at it here in our community, the community cannot show its gratitude enough,” Brookins said.
The store is open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily and the clinic is open 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays at 8331 S. Stewart Ave.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.