Thousands of Westport families know “Dr. Nikki.” As a co-founder of Village Pediatrics she puts kids and parents at ease. Her quick informational videos made her an international TikTok and Instagram star.
Now she has a new venture. As “Dr. Gorman” — a more adult title — she’s opened the Westport Medical and Wellness Center. Two things separate it from most practices in the area: the “direct primary care” model, andhere integration of yoga, massage, acupuncture, meditation and other holistic types of care.
Dr. Gorman has always loved children. She was an 8-year-old babysitter in her native Palos Verdes, California; a Big Sister at the University of Pennsylvania, and after Duke med school and a residency at Stanford Children’s Hospital, she helped found a practice on New York’s West Side. She moved to Westport with her then-husband, a cardiologist, and spent several years with Dr. Jerry Lieberman in Weston.
Fourteen years ago, she and Dr. Jenn Gruen founded Village Pediatrics. All along — in New York, Weston, and in Village’s offices on Kings Highway North and Riverside Avenue — Dr. Gorman enjoyed the business side of medicine. She’s helped eliminate paper, modernize offices and move into telemedicine.
Her dream was to own a medical building. At the same time, Dr. Gorman saw a need for adults in the area to access a new kind of care. Some did not have their own primary physician; some did not want to pay for the “concierge care” that doctors in the area have moved toward.
A realtor told her about a building on Whitney Street Extension, behind the CVS parking lot. A husband-and-wife naturopath team were selling it; they rented other rooms to therapists.
It was exactly what Dr. Gorman wanted. She could run the new practice, and offer rooms to a variety of wellness practitioners.
She could also offer direct primary care — a rarity in the area.
Her website describes it as “a membership-based care model in which patients pay primary car providers a flat, simple, periodic fee directly for unlimited access to primary and preventative services.”
There are no insurance deductibles or premiums. (Insurance is needed, however, for services like imaging and labs, medications, specialist care and hospitals. The practice does not participate in Medicare.)
Without the pressure from insurance companies to see high volumes of patients, practitioners can spend time on healthcare — and prevention. “We really get to know our patients,” she says.
Membership is $200 a month, or $2,000 for 12 months. All wellness services are charged separately.
The difference between direct primary care and concierge medicine, the website says, is that concierge practices may bill insurance while also charging a monthly or annual fee. Those patients are still responsible for co-payments and additional insurance costs.
In direct primary care, patients pay a set fee for all-inclusive services during sick and preventative exams. Medications, labs and in-office procedures are “substantially discounted.”
Dr. Gorman adds, “Direct primary care can be a wonderful option for businesses who want to give their employees an insurance option but can’t afford commercial carriers. Many employers end up not offering insurance at all. This is a way to make sure employees at least get their primary care needs met.”
Westport Medical and Wellness Center is approaching local businesses now, with the option.
As Dr. Gorman interviewed wellness practitioners — yoga instructors, a massage therapist, acupuncturist, meditation facilitator, holistic health coach, even a sexuality coach — she realized that all could work together, to provide complete health care. Anxiety, back pain, high blood pressure — many medical issues can be treated holistically, by a team of people.
She’s having a good time designing her new space — inside and out. She plans a chicken coop for the back yard, and a garden for outdoor yoga.
Dr. Gorman will continue to be Dr. Nikki. She sees young patients three days a week. She won’t actually treat adults; in her new role, she’s overseeing the business side of the practice.
“This is fun,” she says. “I love the entrepreneurial side. And I love helping people.”
As Dr. Gorman adds adults to her focus, she notes how it all leads back to her longtime love of children.
“If parents are healthier and less stressed out, that helps kids too,” she says.
In other words: It takes a village to raise healthy youngsters.