Monmouth New Jersey – Treasurer, Bonnie Ivler

The Story of my life and coding career……

It all started around 2008 when I was working for my neighbor who was dying of cancer. I had been taking care of his books and financials. The business was going to be closed. His daughter had just become a doctor and was looking at opening her own practice with another doctor from medical school. She had wanted me to help her run and manage her office. I had been using a very young sister team for my internists at that time and asked them where to begin. They gave me the name of a woman who sets up medical practices and offices.

That was when I first heard about medical codes and having to know the system before billing. This was totally foreign to me so I went to school at Brookdale Community College in NJ for a coding and billing certification. I was so overwhelmed and at the same time in awe. I came home the first night from medical terminology and told my husband this was like going to medical school.  Claire Bartkewicz, Nancy Clark and Cathy Egan where some of my professors.  Through Nancy & Claire I learned about the Monmouth Ocean AAPC chapter. I decided to go to my first meeting on a Thursday night.

At that point in my life, I was still not comfortable walking into new situations, so I made my husband come along with me. I did not know what to expect. Immediately a woman came over to talk to me and asked me to sit with her. At that point I told my poor husband he could leave and to pick me up after the meeting….and as they say – that was the beginning.

I cannot tell you what that meeting was about, and I was still a student at that time, but I went every month after that and felt such a comradery amongst the members. It was such a friendly, diverse and interesting group and the speakers were always wonderful.

Next came elections, and I was somewhat computer literate and decided to run for a position. The rest is history and I have been hooked ever since. I did finish my 18-month program at the top of my class and received my CPC-A. I started to really love the healthcare field and wanted more. I had already had a BA degree in business with an accounting minor, but this fascinated me. It was a very foreign industry to what I grew up with and very different. I decided to get another 4-year degree and went to the University of Medicine and Dentistry in NJ, where I received my RHIA and a degree in Health Information Management. It was captivating and as part of the school’s program, I could attend all kinds of medical school lectures.  It helped to get a complete picture of the medical industry. I remember one lecture was a case study about illegible doctor’s handwriting which caused the death of a patient and the legal battle that ensued.

I have been treasurer, education officer, and president of Monmouth-Ocean, AAPC chapter and was very proud to help it receive AAPC’s Chapter of the Year award. We are still celebrating and striving to receive the distinction again.

This year will be our 20th anniversary and plans are under way to celebrate and embrace our chapter all year long. We have some new officers this year and the old and new are working very well together. I help keep us financially sound and hope to pass this on next year to a new treasurer however I will never Not be involved with this Chapter and will keep in touch with the lifelong friends I have made along the way.

We have celebrated blessings, tragedies, illnesses and whatever life has thrown at us, together. We survived the ICD-10 transition as a chapter and prepared ourselves and our members with constant education.

We have continued to have our monthly meetings, but also added 4-hour Saturday seminars for those who want more intense focus on topics, especially Medicare and coding updates, as well as HIPAA Compliance, etc.

I have helped proctor many exams, many being ADA compliant. We have also offered an exam one Sunday each year for those who cannot test on a Saturday.

It has been a delight to work with this group and I always look forward to our meetings.

I work in LTC, for the VA for the State of New Jersey. I am the supervisor of H.I.M for the facility and manage admit and re-admit coding, and keep track of all new compliance and Medicare issues as well. It is a very rewarding area to be in, especially because you really get to know the veterans and they have such a great history to share. It is wonderful to be able to help offer a quality of life option when someone can no longer live on their own. It amazes me how dedicated the clinical staff are to these residents. I see the same level of dedication from all of the staff, including recreation, management and housekeeping, etc. It is an overall comprehensive facility and wonderful to be a part of.

This is a career that I wish I had known about when I first went to college. I still may consider adding more AAPC certifications to enhance my career opportunities.  Maybe 2018 will be my year to do just that!

My husband and I show and breed soft coated Wheaten Terriers. This has been an ongoing hobby. I inherited this love from my parents. We have taken over their kennel name to breed under. We recently just had two litters at the same time – 14 pups amongst 5 dogs in a normal home that became “not so normal” for about two months. I will be down to two pups that I am holding onto after this weekend.

I also have a 7-year-old grandson who is my whole world. It is funny how many of us became grandmothers together at the Monmouth Ocean AAPC chapter. We share our stories and pictures all of the time.

There are never enough hours in the day for everything, but I would change nothing…

Note from AAPCCA Board PR Chairman:

This feature is via her own words, thank you, Bonnie for sharing such a great career and chapter history.

Submitted by:

Teresa S. “Terri” Bartrom CPC, CPB

AAPCCA Board of Directors Great Lakes Region 6 Representative 2015-2018

PR Committee Chairman 2017-2018

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