New Primary Care Facility Intimately Tends to Patients

By ZEKE HODKIN

Green Mountain Primary Care
GMPC’s logo, which can be seen outside their Court St. location.

The doctor is in, and she’s taking an innovative approach to patient care. Doctor Laura Weylman, MD, and Ania Mortier, NP, recently opened Green Mountain Primary Care on 102 Court St. near Middlebury Union High School. The duo of trail running companions left separate primary care practices in Addison County to form an alternative healthcare provider option of their own.

Weylman and Mortier employ their combined skill sets to provide patients with primary care, pain relief and treatments for chronic illnesses and ailments. “The basis of our practice is to keep our patient pool small and create a healthy, therapeutic relationship,” Mortier told The Campus in an interview.

The two have long wanted to team up, but each has danced across Addison County, working in offices the other hasn’t been in. Each had also been yearning for a more intimate connection with clients. The Court St. location has allowed them to finally realize their ambition of collaborating. Located just upstairs from the facility is the Pregnancy Resource Center of Addison County, a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) that students have criticized for being a deceptive resource for pregnant women seeking abortions. CPCs aim to discourage women from obtaining abortions by providing information that is often medically inaccurate and influenced by religious bias.

“We’re not pro-life; we’re pro-choice. There’s no association there,” Mortier explained. “For us, it’s really important for people to understand there is no affiliation professionally.”

At long last, the Mortier and Weylman strategized to create a practice that encourages patient health, emphasizing routine visits and developing long-lasting and refreshing relationships between the professionals and their patients.

“Our goal has long been to work together because we’re very similar to each other in our passion, our practice style and our approach to patients,” said Mortier, adding, “We could never make it work [previously], but we really wanted to work together.”

Their patient base is capped at approximately 300 individuals. The clinic also features and home visits, an online communications portal and a 24/7 hotline, all of which augment the intimacy and accessibility of the practice.

“What is most important to me is my relationships with my patients — they are like family,” Dr. Weylman wrote on the Green Mountain Primary Care website. “I want to care for them at the beginning of life, through life, and at the end of life.”

The comprehensive services offered by the small practice are a testament to the founders’ impressive knowledge in their fields; both of their resumes boast eye-opening credentials. Weylman has previously worked at primary care affiliates of Porter Medical Center. She received her doctorate degree from Dartmouth College and holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University.

Mortier has similar work experience and received both her master’s degree in nursing and bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the University of Vermont. Mortier is also trained or certified in a plethora of modalities, including bodywork and massage therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, integrative dry needling and nutrition counseling for chronic pain. She is currently working toward a certification  to administer biofeedback treatment and Botox.

Green Mountain Primary Care offers patients three possible enrollment plans. Under the Health and Wellness plan, patients receive an annual hour-long comprehensive physical appointment. The physical includes routine and special screenings, disease prevention, health coaching, and ECGs and other situational tests. This plan can also address sexual and women’s health needs with Pap smears, STI testing and birth control prescriptions.

The Health and WellnessPLUS plan includes the same physical and its perks in addition to an integrative pain component, which consists of an initial pain consultation and subsequent monthly acupuncture, biofeedback, nutrition, bodywork or CBT sessions. Patients can also opt for the integrative pain package alone, dropping the physical appointment component.  

Each plan brims with the promise of a strong patient-provider connection. Every Green Mountain Primary Care patient receives access to an online portal for scheduling and communication, as well as connection to Weyman and Mortier on a 24/7 hotline. The providers also promise to support patients with guaranteed next-day appointments and referrals to specialists.

The around-the-clock hotline is a testament to both the tight-knit relationship Weylman and Mortier are developing with patients and their dedication to the practice. Mortier described the relationship she has with her patients as predicated on understanding and respect. The nature of their small practice means she knows full well her patients’ health records and can be prepared to respond to them in times of health crises. Simultaneously, her patients are familiar with her background as a mother and avid trail runner.

“When people know you, they call you when they need you, and there’s a different awareness of the resource,” said Mortier. She has found that patients are far more understanding of her own limits as one half of a small primary care practice when she is able to kindle a relationship with them. She further posited that patients feel comfortable making appointments at times of health – not just for their physicals or when sick – to enhance their wellbeing.

All plans begin with a baseline monthly fee of $50 for private care; this is the entirety of the cost for the Health and Wellness plan. Working alongside a lawyer, the pair was able to comply with the law while also eliminating the burden insurance companies can pose towards continued, intimate care. The monthly fee must be paid out-of-pocket. Insurance companies, many of whom the practice is credentialed with, can then cover drop-in visits made by patients as well as emergency room visits.

For patients with robust insurance plans and generous co-pay rates, visits beyond the annual physical can abound, and they can lean into visiting their physician routinely to draft a healthy living plan for themselves. The direct-care approach also allows the practice to offer patients medications and lab tests at wholesale prices.

According to Mortier, this approach is sustainable, legal and “encourages a really healthy, therapeutic relationship.We don’t see seven other providers’ patients,” she said, “and they certainly don’t ask, ‘Who are you?’”

Mortier contends that their model will be successful because of the unique harmony between patient and provider, and between prevention and remediation. The practice has certainly seen early success. Mortier has had to curtail the amount of integrative pain patients she’s enrolling due to astronomical demand. A large amount of Green Mountain Primary Care’s current patient base has followed Weylman and Mortier from their previous practices, yet they are also quickly gaining attention from Middlebury locals. Their enthusiasm and desire to establish a positive connection with their patients is a welcome addition to the local medical landscape.

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