History of the

Inland Empire Perio Study Club

In 1961, three Spokane dentists - Sam Kersey, Cliff Rankin, and Ewing Johnson - decided to start a study group for General Dentists, with a focus on dental surgery.  They were joined shortly thereafter by Jerry Heston.

In those early years, they met in downtown Spokane in the Old National Bank building.  They performed their procedures on patients in rooms with no air conditioning, no running water and no suction.

In 1969 the group decided to do some research. One project was to investigate the criteria that toothbrush manufacturers used to design their toothbrushes.  They learned that there was no criteria other than “what sold the most”.  This lead to the group doing a study on various characteristics of toothbrushes, including bristle stiffness.  They presented their findings in the Washington State Dental Association journal, and received national attention.  They promoted use of soft bristle toothbrushes, which was a concept considered blasphemous at the time by many dental experts, but is widely accepted now.

They continued to meet for the next decade, and were lead by a number of mentors, including Harry Bohanan, Jim Easley, and Al Ogalvie.  They also had some lectures by local periodontists Jon Harding and Darwin Engen.

The dentists would meet on a regular basis, discuss the latest research and techniques, and perform procedures on their patients.  The procedures included full mouth osseous surgery, gingival grafting, and implants (subperiosteal and blade styles).

In 1971 they decided to refine the group.  They attained a new long-term mentor, Paul Heins.  They also expanded the group with new members Al Cunningham, Ted Dill, Mayo Erickson, Joe Asterino, Ezra Ward, Dennis Kelly, and Jack Obde.  The group was now officially the Inland Empire Perio Study Club.

Paul Heins was a practicing periodontist on the UW faculty from 1965 to 1975.  He then relocated to be a part of the development of a new dental school, the University of Florida.  He was appointed chair of the Department of Periodontics.  He returned to the Pacific Northwest after he retired.  As new mentor of the study club, he insisted on focusing the club primarily on periodontics.

The group met six times a year.  Each quarter consisted of one 2-day session and one 1-day session.  Clinical sessions were held at the offices of some of the members, including Ted Dill and Jerry Heston.  Didactic days were held at the Fort Wright commons (now Mukagawa Fort Wright), and often followed by a catered dinner.

17 years later, in 1988, Paul Heins moved to Florida and resigned as mentor.  A search for a new mentor included Don Rolf, Sal Leone, and Herb Selipsky.  After interviews, a guest appearance, and vote by members, Sal Leone was engaged as the new mentor.  He began coming to Spokane in September 1988.

Sal Leone was a Periodontist, practicing in Everett, and teaching grad perio students at UW School of Dentistry.  He also was mentoring other perio study clubs.

The meeting structure was changed for the 1989-90 year to five 2-day sessions.  Each session would include one day of lecture, treatment planning, demo surgery, and one day of surgery by members.  When actual meeting dates were determined for the upcoming year, assignments were made for meeting locations, airport pick-up/drop-off, overnight host, lunch arrangements, and Friday night dinner/entertainment arrangements.

In 1991, Sal further focused the group by presenting and discussing the “Purpose & Goals of Perio Study Club”, where he proposed his vision for the future. He presented a club format that was similar to grad perio programs. These changes were embraced by the members, and most of those changes continue today.

Grand Rounds became a regular component of the meetings in 1993.

In 2001, a videocamera was used for the first time in the clinical session.  This allowed all members to see unobstructed close-up views of the demo surgery.

The group adopted their first written “Bylaws of the Inland Empire Perio Study Club” in September of 2006.

In 2008, the club expanded it's membership to include associates of current members.

Dr. Leone resigned as club mentor in 2016 when he retired from private practice. Many tributes to Sal were given at a farewell dinner party in May. A search for the new mentor resulted in the club voting Dr. Shaun Whitney as the mentor, starting September 2016.

Dr. Whitney has dual degrees in periodontics and endodontics. He maintains a private practice in Coeur d'Alene Idaho.

To this day, the club continues to meet on a regular basis, making it the longest-running study club in the Spokane/North Idaho area.

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Annual Dues