I Am AAPC: Helen Milonopoulos, CPC, COC

I Am AAPC: Helen Milonopoulos, CPC, COC
I was the victim of a drunk driving accident on December 3, 2003. The driver merged from an on-ramp to the highway at 50 mph and never stayed in his lane. My driver’s side car door was hit head-on. Lucky for me, it was the coldest night of the season: My blood instantly coagulated and I went into shock, which saved my life. I spent a year and a half in and out of the hospital for reconstructive surgeries and rehabilitation. Giving up was not an option; I had two young daughters — Stephanie and Melissa — to support and nurture. I am a much stronger person because of the accident, but the experience caused them to grow up sooner than necessary. I found support through Wentworth-Douglass Hospital (WDH), where I worked, and our school system. My ex-husband and I both have strong community ties, so when my accident became known, WDH, firefighters/EMT, and school personnel stepped up to help with the care and support of our daughters. A local car dealership even found a car with adjustable gas/brake pedals so I could drive comfortably when recovered. My family and close friends played a major role in my recovery, keeping my spirits up and taking me out as often as possible. I couldn’t return to my jobs as diet office representative and food service for WDH because of my injuries. I contacted human resources to discuss employment options. They suggested Seacoast Career Schools’ Coding/Billing/Transcription course — an accelerated two-year course completed in nine months with a six-week internship. I completed the course and interned at WDH. This was an opportunity for me to still support myself and my daughters. Determined, I excelled with high honors and perfect attendance. I enjoyed medical coding, so when my classes ended, I became an AAPC member and earned my CPC®. When a charge entry position became available at WDH, I applied and interviewed with Coding Supervisor Pam Brooks, MHA, CPC, COC, PCS. I was so happy to get back to work. I took an evaluation and management (E/M) coding position in January 2007. Three years later, I transferred to emergency room facility coding and have held that position ever since. Last year, I passed the Certified Outpatient Coding (COC™) exam and the ICD-10-CM proficiency exam. What’s next? Mastering the former E codes, now V-Y codes in ICD-10; they have been a challenge for emergency department coding on dual coding days. I continue to support my daughters in their healthcare careers, working for a payer and as a coder. The accident taught me to keep moving forward. You don’t get anywhere standing still!

About Has 162 Posts

Michelle A. Dick has been executive editor for AAPC for over seven years. Prior to her work at AAPC, she was editor-in-chief at Eli Research and Element K Journals, and disk ad coordinator, web designer/developer, and graphic artist at White Directory Publishers, Inc. Dick has a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design from the State University of New York - Buffalo State and is a member of the Flower City Professional Coders in Rochester, N.Y.

One Response to “I Am AAPC: Helen Milonopoulos, CPC, COC”

  1. Cassadie Griffith says:

    That was a very encouraging message!! I go for my CPC in June. I am very nervous. Reading these stories lets me know that is can happen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *