Health | News | Vital Signs

Kaiser Move To Re-Classify Hygienists Challenged

OPB | April 25, 2013 3:55 p.m. | Updated: June 7, 2013 10:17 a.m. | Portland

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An effort by Kaiser Permanente to re-classify periodontal hygienists is being challenged by the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals.


For the last 20 years, Kaiser has classified people who clean your teeth two ways - general hygienists and periodontal hygienists.

The periodontal hygienists get paid about $2.50 an hour more and they work with patients suffering severe dental problems. 

Now Kaiser wants to combine the two positions.  Union organizer Jeff Carr says patients will suffer.

“Becuase the patient and care, in terms of advanced gum disease, is going to fall into the hands of the general hygienist. And the general hygienists are not up to speed let’s say, although they’re licenced to do it, they haven’t done it since 1993-94.”

Kaiser issued a statement saying the change will allow hygienists to use the entire range of their skills — and enhance service.

The union has filed a grievance and the two parties are headed to arbitration.

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