Kaiser's Periodontal Hygienists Targeted For Elimination

Untold Impact on Quality Patient Care


April 23, 2013 — Kaiser Permanente’s Vice President of Dental Services, Dr. Kenneth Wright, has announced his intent to eliminate Periodontal Hygienists within the Kaiser dental system. Periodontal Hygienists are the professionals who work in conjunction with Periodontists to provide treatment of advanced gum disease to some of our population’s most at-risk patients.

Wright’s plan will without a doubt reduce labor costs and boost company profits. However, it will -- most importantly -- have a negative impact on the quality of care provided by our professional Hygienists. OFNHP, the union that represents Kaiser’s Hygienists, has attempted to negotiate with management and demonstrate that eliminating the Periodontal Hygienist classification is a superficial cost solution which 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. This growth is based on the excellent and focused care each patient receives. By eliminating the specialized classification of Periodontal Hygienist, this successful dental program is going to take a giant leap backward in providing the consistent care Kaiser members have enjoyed in the past.

OFNHP Local 5017 is taking this anti-patient, anti-employee “cost savings” plan to the highest level of arbitration. It is the union’s position that Wright’s heavy-handed, anti-patient-care decision violates the current legal and binding contract between Kaiser and the Union. It also violates the patient’s trust that Kaiser Permanente puts high-quality patient care over profits.

OFNHP Executive Director Edward Burke states, ”Patient care will undoubtedly suffer. It is extremely disappointing that Kaiser has recently promoted Dr. Wright to the Vice-President of Dental Services while at the same time he is eliminating an entire classification of specialized care which will clearly impact the quality of care that Kaiser Dental has historically provided.”

Please note that on Wednesday, April 24, OFNHP union members will be demonstrating in front of Kaiser headquarters, 500 NE Multnomah, Portland, from 7:30-8:30am and 3:30-4:30pm. Additional demonstrations will occur at various dental clinics throughout the region on a random and unannounced basis. Please contact Internal Organizer Jeff Carr at 503.880.4183 for further details.

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