I have traveled so often to California that it’s hard to remember the destination of every visit. I don’t believe I’ve seen Sacramento, though. I think I would have remembered the Tower Bridge. I admire the engineering and architectural designs that went into older generations of bridges. The Tower Bridge has vertical lifts to enable boats on the Sacramento River to pass underneath. Two towers rise up to more than 160 feet into the air. I would have remembered Sacramento.
The offices for the California Dental Hygienists’ Association sits in a cluster of professional office buildings—pretty much similar to what you find in any city—about five miles northeast of the state capitol buildings. It’s a little ironic that the street address is Point West Way, since many significant events in dental hygiene over the last 30 years prompted the rest of us to look west, particularly within the last three years.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never driven down Point West Way, even if I’ve passed through Sacramento at some point. We all should pay a visit to the CDHA headquarters. We can also visit the Tower Bridge, Sutter Creek, Tower Bridge, Crocker Art Museum, and, of course, the capitol on the way out of town.
Don’t get me wrong. The state’s dental hygienists withdrew from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association in June 2016, and it still bothers me a bit. The importance of unity within the ADHA community is as important as it ever was. California’s absence is a shame for both financial and political reasons. It just doesn’t sound right to say the ADHA has the support of 49 states. Any outsider in a position of influence for the profession could think, “Only 49? Have you, uh, miscounted? You meant to say 50, right?”
If isn’t as if preventive oral health care has become nonexistent in California during the last two years. Californians still receive excellent oral health care. Hygienists haven’t switched any clinical concepts here: “Nah, you don’t have to do anything at home. Don’t worry about brushing and flossing. Just remember to bring your wallet with you when you come back in six months.”
What is unique is how the CDHA treats its members differently now. Rather than adhering to a national blueprint regarding the professional needs of dental hygienists, the state association makes a concerted effort to listen directly to the concerns of California dental hygienists. I interviewed the president, Lory Laughter, for RDH eVillage last month. Some of the first steps for the association involved making membership easier for recent graduates, as well as insurance benefits for all members.
Lory said, “CDHA continues to address the needs of all California dental hygienists, members or not ... CDHA has been involved in many advances in our laws and scope of practice. Our presence is known at the state capitol, and the respect we receive there is unparalleled.”
But she also added, “The biggest negative feedback I get is from out-of-state RDHs who do not have the full story. They draw upon loyalties and half-truths to remain in a state of discontent.”
The state association hosts its house of delegates meeting in Sacramento in June. The break with the ADHA occurred in Fresno, and the first anniversary of independence was celebrated in San Diego. The new CDHA will begin its third year in the shadow of Tower Bridge and the capitol buildings.