Thousands of Nebraskans would have easier access to dental care under a bill that Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber advocates.Under the bill, dental hygienists would be allowed to perform preventative oral care on children in public-health settings without the required 3,000 hours of minimum experience.
In 2007, legislation passed that allowed licensed dental hygienists to perform preventative care without the supervision of a dentist in public-health settings, but only if they had 3,000 hours of experience -- roughly a year-and-a-half of full-time experience, Karpisek said.
To practice on adults, dental hygienists would still need to meet the experience requirement, according to Karpisek's proposal (LB 484.)
Karpisek said procedures in a dental hygienist’s scope of practice -- including oral cleaning and the application of sealants and fluorides -- are basic and already included in the hygienist’s education.
Proponent Jane Brockemeier, a dental hygienist and Nebraska Dental Hygienist’s Association representative, said the expansion would help reach those most vulnerable to tooth decay and disease, including low-income children and nursing home residents.
Faster service, less waste
Members of the HHS committee also listened to proponents of another health care bill -- LB326 -- which would put automated pill dispensers in locked medication rooms in nursing homes for easier access to residents’ prescriptions.
Currently, most facilities require pills to be delivered by a pharmacy technician and checked into the nursing home, a process that can take hours.
Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha, the bill’s sponsor, said the measure would modernize elder care, help reduce medication waste and therefore cut costs for patients and taxpayers.
“We won’t see medication thrown away because we’re not using it,” she said.
Proponent Larry Johnson, director of government relations for Golden Living Centers elder care franchise, said the technology would save four hours of nursing time that would be spent passing pills to residents.
Nursing home staff would have more time to spend working on residents’ care instead, he said.
No one testified against either bill.