, Gloucester, MA

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May 26, 2008

GHS clinic chiefs quit over contraception fight

The medical director and chief nurse practitioner of Gloucester High School's health center have abruptly resigned over an advisory-board dispute — one centering on the Addison Gilbert Hospital representative's stand against supporting a potential school-based contraception program amid a soaring GHS pregnancy rate.

Dr. Brian Orr, the medical director of the school clinic, and Kim Daly, the primary nurse practitioner, submitted their resignations Friday and have notified AGH officials that their move follows a lack of hospital support for recommending a comprehensive contraception effort as part of the school-based clinic.

"This is one of the most outrageous things I have ever been a part of in my career," said Orr, who has worked in teen clinics for 18 years.

The news that 10 Gloucester High students were pregnant became public in March, and that number — as reported to the clinic staff — is now 17. Teen pregnancy, long on the decline across the country, is on the upswing nationally for the first time in 15 years, national statistics show. The situation in Gloucester — which normally deals with about four pregnancies per school year, officials have said — has reached what Orr calls epidemic proporations.

Orr noted that, of the 17 pregnant teens, 14 were diagnosed at the clinic and only three were diagnosed at Cape Ann Pediatricians. "This shows that they were using the clinic preferentially when they needed to turn to a health care provider," said Orr.

The advisory committee for the GHS student health clinic had been preparing to bring a proposal to the School Committee, and that proposal included a plan to provide confidential contraception. But Orr said that direction began to change after January when Cindy Donaldson — executive director of Addison Gilbert — became the new representative on the student health center advisory board.

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