History of Adolescent Medicine

In 1957, Department of Pediatrics Chair C. Henry Kempe, MD, scheduled “special teen days” within the pediatric clinic at Colorado General Hospital (now University Hospital). That simple three-days-a-week schedule has evolved into one of the nation’s most innovative Adolescent Medicine programs. Thirty years after its founding, the Section of Adoles­cent Medicine helped launch two of the country’s first school-based health centers at Denver’s Abraham Lincoln and East High Schools. Thirty years after that, Children’s Hospital Colorado was recognized nationally for helping Colorado reduce its teen birth and abortion rates by half at a savings 

of $70 million in public assistance costs. Other achievements have been recorded annually. The physical and social benefits for Rocky Mountain teens and their families have been immeasurable. And the financial impact on the region has not gone unnoticed.

At the Forefront

Ida Nakashima, MD, arrived in Colorado as a child during World War II when her family was sent to the Granada War Relocation Center in Amache. Following medical school, she entered the University of Colorado’s Pediatric residency program and later became one of C. Henry Kempe’s first chief residents. When he established adolescent services at Colorado General Hospital, Ida was his choice for supervisor. During her 30-year career with the University, she founded the Adolescent Medicine Clinic and Adolescent Gynecology Program, guided development of the Adolescent Medicine Fellowship, and directed the Prenatal Young Mothers Clinic.

Henry Cooper, MD, completed his Pediatrics residency and his Adolescent Medicine fellowship at the University of Colorado Medical Center. Following a fellowship in Child Development and Psychology at Yale University, he returned to Colorado to direct the University of Colorado’s Adolescent Medicine Clinic at Colorado General Hospital. While directing the Adolescent Clinic, Henry trained a great number of pediatric residents, medical students, and students from a diverse group of ancillary professions.  

David Kaplan, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAM, is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University Medical School. He served his internship and residency at the University of Colorado Department of Pediatrics. A training award from the U.S. Public Health Service allowed Kaplan to earn his Masters in Public Health and pursue fellowship training at Boston Children’s Hospital. He returned to the University of Colorado in 1984 to become the Section Head of Adolescent Medicine and establish the first Adolescent Clinic at Children’s Hospital.

Elizabeth Romer, ND, DNP, began her career as a nurse practitioner in the Adolescent Medicine Clinic at The Children’s Hospital, where she coordinated the Title X family planning program. In 2009, Romer helped initiate the Adolescent Family Planning Program at Children’s, also known as BC4U, and served as its director. Now a national model, the BC4U program has served some 4,000 new patients each year since 2012.

Daniel Reirden, MD, is cofounder and director of The TRUE Center for Gender Diversity at Children’s Hospital Colorado and serves as Medical Director of the Children’s Hospital Immunodeficiency Program (CHIP). He is also a past co-director of the School of Medicine’s combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program.

Chronicling Adolescent Medicine

1957 — The Adolescent Clinic, one of the first in the nation, begins when C. Henry Kempe schedules “special teen days” each week within the Colorado General Hospital pediatric clinic. Ida Nakashima serves as director.  

1965 — The Adolescent Clinic moved to its own space at Colorado General Hospital and Henry Cooper is named director of the program.

1967— The Adolescent Fellowship—one of the first Adolescent Medicine training programs in the country—was launched by the School of Medicine. 

1984 — David Kaplan becomes Section Head and establishes the first Adolescent Clinic at Children’s Hospital. The Adolescent Medicine Inpatient unit is also established.

1986 — The Adolescent Psychiatric Inpatient Unit at The Children’s Hospital is established by David Kaplan and David Raney.

1986 — The Eating Disorder Program, one of the first in the nation, is started by Jennifer Hagman, Eric Sigel and David Kaplan at The Children’s Hospital.

1987 — Denver’s first School-Based Health Center—also one of the first in the nation—is founded at Abraham Lincoln and East High Schools by David Kaplan.

1991 — Catherine Stevens-Simon establishes the Colorado Adolescent Maternity Program (CAMP) and the Young Mother’s clinic, one of the first “teen-tot” programs in the country

2000 — The Adolescent Medicine fellowship program is accredited after establishment of Adolescent Medicine by the American Board of Pediatrics as a distinct pediatric subspecialty. 

2009 — The Adolescent Family Planning Clinic (BC4U), is established by Elizabeth Romer and David Kaplan.  

2011 — The HIV research effort led by Daniel Reirden and Elizabeth McFarland is named a NICHD-funded adolescent trials network site.

2012 — Based on his work in youth violence prevention, Eric Sigel is awarded a $1,025,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice in the wake of the Sandy Hook Massacre to study ways to leverage health care to decrease the impact of firearm injury. 

2013 — The School of Medicine establishes a combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program with Dan Reirden as named co-director.

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