New primary care service opens in Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — Dr. Laura Weylman and Family Nurse Practitioner Ania Mortier have a lot in common. They both are passionate about running and staying fit. They’re unabashed dog lovers. And they’ve long shared the same healthcare philosophy that patients should be treated like family and be seen when healthy as well as when sick.
Now they have another thing in common: Green Mountain Primary Care, a new Middlebury practice at 102A Court St. It’s a joint venture finally coming to fruition after a decade of wishful thinking.
“We were both ready for a change, and everything came together,” Mortier explained on Monday.
The two providers already knew what it would be like to work together. Their professional paths recently crossed for four years, at Bristol’s Mountain Health Center. Mortier during that time served as Weylman’s medical assistant.
They “clicked,” and Mortier was able to take on an increasing role as she gained more experience and healthcare credentials. She went back to school to earn her Registered Nurse and Nurse Practitioner degrees.
“She was my best and first mentor,” Mortier said of Weylman.
Until recently, Mortier worked at Bristol Primary Care, while Weylman was at Little City Family Practice in Vergennes. Those two practices are affiliated with Porter Medical Center. As previously reported by the Independent, Bristol Primary Care will be closing next month.
“We continued to brainstorm on how to have our ‘dream practice,’” Weylman said. “We discovered this space (at 102A Court St.) and got excited about the idea of a change and having more time with patients.”
They hired Alysha Curtis, LPN, as their multi-talented assistant, and officially opened Green Mountain Primary Care around three weeks ago.
Patients are noting that Weylman and Mortier like to think outside the box when it comes to the delivery of healthcare. They both place a premium on preventive healthcare, and their business model is in large a reflection of that principle.
For example, they offer adult patients (age 18 to 90) the option of paying a $50-per-month fee for a menu of services that include:
•A yearly 60-minute comprehensive routine physical exam, regardless of medical condition or necessity, that includes an EKG and routine screening labs for cholesterol, metabolic, diabetes, blood count and urinalysis.
•Health and wellness coaching.
•Follow-up visits to comprehensive physical.
•Preferred pricing for integrative (including pain management and wellness) visits.
The practice does bill insurance for chronic and sick visits, and of course patients need coverage for emergency room visits, imaging and hospitals stays.
“Our model involves patients investing in a more connected care model that annually screens patients and provides ongoing annual physical health education and care support toward meeting annual exam-based health goals,” reads a business narrative on greenmountainprimarycare.com.
“If you feel healthy, and we hope you do, our model is designed to identify and (when possible) defer or avoid illness,” the narrative states. “Given the prevalence of high-deductible plans… it is not only uncomfortable but also expensive to be ill. We want our patients invested in illness avoidance, early detection, and prevention. And we believe that over time, that can generate actual cost savings for patients. Our primary focus is to keep patients well and to avoid more expensive ‘medical’ care if possible.”
The pair had grown weary of a conventional primary care system that often calls upon physicians to see many patients each day in rapid succession.
“We really wanted to have more time with our patients, and we love our relationships with our patients,” Weylman said. “We researched this new model and decided to take the leap. It’s really exciting.”
Mortier and Weylman want to cap their total number of patients at around 300 each. They noted some primary care providers carry a patient load of 1,000.
They’re offering house calls to homebound patients and will use telemedicine to communicate with others.
“It’s a very new model and we’ve put a lot of work into it,” Mortier said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done. I think it’s very innovative.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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