May 24, 2022

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Bangor low-income dental clinic lays off nearly half its staff

The only greater Bangor dental clinic accepting MaineCare has laid off nearly half its employees as part of a restructuring effort in the middle of a national labor shortage.

Penobscot Community Dental Care laid off 31 employees two weeks ago while undergoing a reorganization in response to “changing demographics and other changes in Maine and in dental care,” spokesperson Kate Carlisle said Monday. Laid-off employees included dentists, dental assistants, hygienists and technicians.

The restructuring was done to “reimagine provider roles” and allow the clinic to “look ahead to staffing and work flows” allowing the clinic to continue providing basic services and meet demand for adult dental services after Maine passed a law this summer expanding MaineCare to cover dental care for low-income adults, Carlisle said.

It makes the clinic the only one of its kind in Maine to announce major layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The timing surprised some, with an industry group official saying she did not know why the clinic would be laying key employees off now.

Laid-off employees were being welcomed back to apply for newly defined roles. The dental clinic, which serves patients as part of Penobscot Community Health Care, listed 20 providers on its website on Monday. Sixty-five people worked at the clinic before the layoffs, Carlisle said.

Bangor low-income dental clinic lays off nearly half its staff