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July 10, 2008

Gloucester: Health System denies privacy breach in pregnancy numbers

The president of the company that runs the Gloucester High School health center yesterday denied knowledge of any breaches of patient privacy in the reporting of the numbers of pregnant students at the school this year, and said he was unaware of any statistics released by the clinic related to student pregnancies.

In a letter released yesterday responding to an inquiry by Mayor Carolyn Kirk, Northeast Health System President Stephen Laverty did not define what information was considered confidential and said he could neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of reports from Dr. Brian Orr, former medical director of the clinic, that 18 students had become pregnant from June 2007 to May 2008.

Laverty said the only statistics he was aware of were city-wide pregnancy numbers reported to the student health center's advisory board by Orr and former nurse practitioner Kim Daly. He also declined to say whether the number of pregnancy tests requested by students had been released or whether the age or grade level of any pregnant students was reported.

He said accounts of the reaction of students to any medical tests would be considered a violation and that he was "not aware" that this had occurred.

"The responses of (Addison Gilbert Hospital) to the media have been professional and did not include any information specific to the treatment of any student or constitute a breach of confidentiality," Laverty said in the letter to Kirk. "The only statistic of which I am aware is the total number of teenage pregnancies in Gloucester."

Daly told the Times in May that she had done around 150 pregnancy tests since the beginning of the school year.

A policy paper written by the advisory group in May and obtained by the Times lists the grade levels of 15 girls confirmed to be pregnant at the time. The advisory board includes the clinic staff and school, city and hospital representatives.

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