AHA Central Office Staff

The AHA Central Office staff is comprised of highly skilled coding professionals with expertise in diagnosis and procedure codes, including ICD-9-CM, ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS, HCPCS, and CPT-4 coding. Their experience ranges from urban teaching hospitals, physician practices and hospital systems, to community hospitals and review organizations.

In addition to being credentialed in Health Information Management, Health Information Technology, and/or coding, they are well represented in national healthcare coding organizations and frequently publish and speak on coding topics.

Karen Ayala, RHIT

ICD-10-CM Coding Consultant

Ms. Ayala has provided AHA Central Office with administrative support and customer service for over 25 years. Recently, she has taken the position of Coding Specialist at the AHA Central Office. In this role, she focuses on responding to requests for ICD-10 CM. She continues to serve as a contact for all Central Office coding queries. She also supplies professional guidance for the Coding Clinic educational quizzes. In addition to her RHIT credentialing, Ms. Ayala holds an Associate degree.

Mary A Bowlan, RHIA, CDIP, CCS

Coding Consultant

Ms. Bowlan brings more than 17 years of health information management (HIM) experience to AHA Central Office where she responds to requests for ICD-10-CM/PCS coding advice. She also researches and develops content for the AHA Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM/PCS Editorial Advisory Board. Her previous experience includes inpatient and outpatient coding, auditing, clinical documentation improvement (CDI), regulatory compliance, and denial management of governmental reviews/audits, including Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs), for a large academic medical center.  In addition to her credentials, Ms. Bowlan has a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

Kristina M. Cool RHIA, CCS

Coding Consultant

Ms. Cool brings more than 7 years of health information management experience to AHA Central Office where she responds to requests for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS coding advice. She also researches and develops issues for the AHA Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS Editorial Advisory Board. Her previous experience includes inpatient coding at a large academic medical center and a facility inpatient coder for a consulting service.

Ms. Cool holds a Bachelors of Applied Science in Health Information Management from the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as RHIA and CCS credentials.

Sylvia Haddad, RHIA

Managing Editor HCPCS

Ms. Haddad brings more than 20 years of health information management experience to the AHA Central Office where she responds to requests for HCPCS coding advice. She also researches and develops issues for review by the Coding Clinic Advisory Board for HCPCS. Her previous experience includes outpatient coding, auditing, training, and denial management. Ms. Haddad holds a Bachelors of Science in Health Information Management from the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as an RHIA credential.

Denene M. Harper, RHIA

Director, Coding and Classification, Content

With more than 20 years of experience as a coding consultant, Ms. Harper develops ancillary instructor materials for the ICD-10-CM/ICD-10-PCS Coding Handbook. Ms. Harper also researches and develops issues for the AHA Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM/PCS Editorial Advisory Board. Previously, she managed the AHA coding video series.

Prior to joining AHA, Ms. Harper had experience as a hospital coder as well as in quality improvement at a health plan. In addition to her RHIA credentialing, she has a BS in Health Information Management. Ms. Harper is also an AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer.

Toni Hershey, RHIA, CCS

Coding Consultant

Ms. Hershey brings 15 years of coding experience in her role as a coding consultant for ICD-10-CM/PCS. At the AHA Central Office, she responds to requests for ICD-10 coding advice, researches, and develops content for Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM/PCS Editorial Advisory Board. Her previous experience includes acute inpatient hospital coding. In addition to her credentials, Ms. Hershey has a BS degree in Health Information Management and is an AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer.

Patricia D. Jones, RHIT

Coding Consultant

With almost 17 years of experience, Ms. Jones responds to requests for HCPCS coding advice, and researches and develops content for the Coding Clinic for HCPCS. Prior to joining the Central Office, she was a specialist in physician outpatient and surgical coding for HCPCS where she coded for gastroenterology, urology, podiatry, neurology, allergy, ophthalmology, and musculoskeletal conditions. Prior to joining the AHA Central Office team, she had experience as both an outpatient surgical coder for hospitals and physicians groups as well as a CPT instructor.

Besides holding RHIT credentialing, Ms. Jones received an AS degree in Health Information Technology.

Susan Latham, RHIT, CCS

Managing Editor Manager HCPCS

Ms. Latham has more than 17 years experience in health information management with extensive knowledge in ICD-10-CM/PCS and CPT coding. She responds to requests for ICD-10-CM/PCS coding advice for the AHA Central Office. She also researches and develops issues for AHA’s Coding Clinic Editorial Advisory Board for ICD-10-CM/PCS. Her experience includes inpatient and outpatient coding, training and leadership in an acute care hospital setting. Ms. Latham has also worked as a coding educator in an academic setting.

Besides her RHIT and CCS designations, Ms. Latham holds an Associate Degree in Applied Science. She is currently serving as a member of Gateway Technical College’s Health Information Technology advisory committee. Ms. Latham is also an AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer.

Benjamin (Benji) Oden, RHIT, CCS and CCS-P

Coding Consultant

Ms. Oden brings more than 30 years of health information management experience to AHA Central Office where she responds to requests for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS coding advice. Her previous experience includes inpatient and outpatient coding at several large academic medical centers, consulting and peer review organizations.

Cherrsse Ruffin, RHIT

Coding Consultant

Ms. Ruffin brings more than 20 years of health information management experience to AHA Central Office where she responds to requests for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS coding advice and develops coding clinic quizzes for continuing education credit. She also researches and develops issues for the AHA Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS Editorial Advisory Board. Her previous experience includes inpatient and outpatient coding at both academic medical centers and rehabilitation hospitals. She also worked as an outpatient auditor and physician billing specialist.

Besides her RHIT designation, Ms. Ruffin has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Health Information Management and is an AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer.

Kathy White, RHIA

ICD-10-CM/PCS Coding Manager

Ms. White brings more than 10 years of health information management experience to AHA Central Office where she responds to requests for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS coding advice. She also researches and develops issues for the AHA Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS Editorial Advisory Board. Her previous experience includes inpatient and outpatient coding in acute care hospitals and as a clinical information analyst reviewing records for the quality improvement process.

Besides her RHIA designation, Ms. White has a Bachelor's of Science degree in Health Information Management and a Master of Jurisprudence in Health Law. She is also an AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer.

Gretchen Young-Charles, RHIA

Senior Coding Consultant

Gretchen Young-Charles, RHIA is a Managing Editor of AHA Coding Clinic® for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS, and is responsible for developing the publication and serving as Secretary for the Editorial Advisory Board for Coding Clinic with the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Central Office on ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS. The AHA Central Office serves as the official U.S. Clearinghouse on medical coding for the proper use of the ICD-10-CM/ICD-10-PCS systems and Level I HCPCS (CPT-4 codes) for hospital providers and certain Level II HCPCS codes for hospitals, physicians and other
health professionals.

In her current role, she develops articles on official coding advice for publication in AHA Coding Clinic® for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS. She is part of the team responsible for the annual revisions to the ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS Coding Handbook published by AHA Press. She has presented at numerous educational seminars including a featured speaker for the popular AHA Coding Clinic® webinar series. She is an AHIMA-approved ICD-10 Trainer. She also served as the Secretary to the Rehab Coding Workgroup, a collaboration between the AHA Central Office and the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation. Gretchen has over 30 years experience in the HIM field, and has worked in numerous HIM roles, including education, quality, hospital based outpatient and acute care, as well as a number of years spent with the Peer Review Organization (PRO) for the state of Illinois. Gretchen holds a BS in Health Information Management.

Halima Zayyad-Matarieh, RHIA

Coding Consultant

Ms. Zayyad-Matarieh brings over 15 years of experience to her role as a coding consultant for ICD-10 CM/PCS. At the AHA Central Office, she focuses on responding to requests for ICD-10 CM & PCS coding advice. She also is involved in researching and developing content for the Coding Clinic Editorial Advisory Board.

Her previous experience includes coding and supervisory positions in community hospitals and academic medical centers. Ms. Zayyad-Matarieh holds a BS Degree in Health Information Management as well as RHIA credentialing. Ms. Zayyad-Matarieh is also an AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer.

AHA Central Office Policy Liaison 

Tammy Love, RHIA, CCS, CDIP

Director, Coding and Classification, Policy 

Ms. Love brings more than 25 years of experience in health information management (HIM), coding, auditing, clinical documentation improvement (CDI), and regulatory compliance to the AHA. Among her primary responsibilities with the AHA is facilitating discussions among industry HIM, coding, and CDI experts focused on the annual Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) proposed rule comment development. She works closely with the AHA Central Office coding team on regulatory and coding topics and facilitates the Coding Clinic Editorial Advisory Boards for HCPCS and ICD-10-CM/PCS. She also serves as the AHA subject matter expert and representative on the CPT Assistant Editorial Board and CPT Editorial Panel.

Ms. Love has a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and is in the process of pursuing a Master of Science, in Health Informatics to enrich her knowledge and expertise.