Kaiser periodontal hygienists in Ore. may get the axe

Kaiser Permanente's vice president of dental services, Kenneth Wright, DMD, has announced his intent to eliminate periodontal hygienists within the Kaiser dental system in Oregon.

The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), which represents Kaiser's hygienists, has attempted to negotiate with management and demonstrate that eliminating the periodontal hygienist classification is a superficial cost solution that will negatively impact patient care and will actually cost more money in the long term.

According to Kaiser's own statistics, the region's dental membership has increased from 190,000 in 2011 to 205,000 in 2013. The federation warned that by eliminating the specialized classification, the program is going to take a step backward in providing consistent care.

OFNHP Local 5017 is taking this antipatient, antiemployee "cost-savings" plan to the highest level of arbitration. The union described Dr. Wright's efforts as "heavy-handed" and "antipatient-care" that are in violation of the current legal and binding contract between Kaiser and the nnion.

The OFNHP union has planned a demonstration in front of Kaiser headquarters in Portland today.

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