The College of St. Scholastica - Health Information Management
Greetings from the College of St. Scholastica!
Ryan Sandefer, MA, CPHIT
Bob Dylan, the iconic singer/songwriter born in Duluth, MN, sang the infamous lyrics, "the times they are a-changin'." The quote definitely holds true for the HIIM Department these days. I have been in the Department Chair position for just over one year, and it has been an exciting year of learning, program development, and  project implementation--lots and lots of change. Two long-standing faculty and friends, Kathy LaTour and Shirley Eichenwald-Maki, retired at the end of the last academic year. The Department kicked off an inaugural Forum in their honor last June. While the healthcare industry is changing with the HITECH Act, Meaningful Use, healthcare reform and the ICD-10 transition, the Department is changing along with it. Faculty have been involved in many initiatives related to these programs, including the University Partnership for Health Informatics (UP-HI), the Regional Extension and Assistance Center for HIT (REACH), Privacy and Security Bootcamps, and a grant funded partnership with Essentia Health regarding ICD-10 transition.

Due to all of this change, the Department is planning to send a quarterly newsletter regarding news, upcoming events, faculty scholarship, student and alumni accomplishments, and other features to keep our friends and alumni informed about department activities.  I hope you enjoy this e-newsletter. If you have ideas or items you would like to share through the newsletter, please let me know. Most importantly, please keep in touch.



Ryan Sandefer, Chair & Assistant Professor 

The College of St. Scholastica
Department of Health Informatics and Information Management
LaTour Eichenwald Forum, Linda Kloss Keynote
Linda Kloss Keynote
Linda Kloss Keynote
The first annual Latour/Eichenwald Forum on HIIM Leadership & Innovation was held Monday, June 4 and featured a reception honoring Kathy LaTour and Shirley Eichenwald-Maki, who both retired this year. The forum was created for one reason: to honor the pioneering spirit of LaTour and Eichenwald-Maki by hosting a keynote address from an individual who embodies the leadership qualities and innovative approach to HIM that has been demonstrated by these two professionals. This year's address was from Linda Kloss, '68, former CEO of AHIMA and prominent industry leader. To view the keynote address in its entirety, click HERE to view the LaTour Eichenwald Key
note Address.
Shirley Eichenwald Maki and Kathy LaTour
Shirley Eichenwald-Maki and Kathy LaTour
Oachs Elected to CCHIIM Board
HIM Faculty Pam Oac
HIM Faculty Pam Oachs
Pam Oachs, MA, RHIA, Assistant Professor in our HIM department, has been elected to AHIMA's Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM). Oachs will work with the other commissioners to set the standards for certification for HIIM professionals. For more information regarding CCHIIM, click HERE to view AHIMA-CCHIIM.
HIM Trains Essentia Health on ICD-10
Essentia ICD Trainees
Essentia ICD Trainees
The HIIM Department hosted a successful ICD-10 training session for 35 Essentia (local Duluth health care system) staff members over two days this August. The Essentia trainees will serve as leads on their respective implementation teams when they transition to a new coding system. Brooke Palkie is the faculty lead on the grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Ryan Sandefer and Danika Brinda are also working on the project. 

CSS HIM Partners with St. Paul College
St. Paul College
In addition to its online bachelor's degree, the College of St. Scholastica is offering a bachelor's degree in Health Information Management at St. Paul College. It is a hybrid classroom/online program aimed toward those individuals unsure about the transition to online education. To learn more about this new program, click HERE BS-HIM at St. Paul College .
Merida Johns, PhD, R
Merida Johns, PhD, RHIA
Dr. Merida Johns Awarded Distinguished Member

Dr. Merida Johns, long time CSS HIIM Adjunct Faculty member, has received the American Health Information Management Association's highest honor--The Distinguished Member Triumph Award. The award celebrates an individual with a long and exceptional history of health information management contributions. It is awarded to an outstanding individual whose record of contributions is truly distinct and noteworthy. Merida's contributions to the field of HIM are not easily summarized, but her impact to the profession and to the educational of future professionals has been remarkable. 
To learn more about the distinguished member award, click HERE
Congratulations, Merida!
Students Selected for AHIMA Honors, SAC and Triumph Awards
HIM Student Brandi Bierbrauer
HIM Student Brandi Bierbrauer
In May, Kayla Zirbes, Senior Health Information Management major, was selected to serve on the American Health Information Management Association's Student Advisory Council (SAC). The selection was extremely competitive (AHIMA received 150 applications for 6 positions). The selected volunteers will be responsible for working with AHIMA to develop strategies for enhancing AHIMA student benefits and experience.

Two CSS HIM Students, Brandi Bierbraur, senior Health Information Management major and Monte Handley, graduate student in Health Information Management, were selected to receive the AHIMA Student Triumph Award. The Student Award recognizes and encourages the best of the fresh, new talent being trained in CAHIIM accredited or AHIMA approved coding programs nationwide. Click HERE to learn more about AHIMA's Triumph Awards. 
HIM Student Kayla Zirbes
HIM Student Kayla Zirbes
HIM Graduate Student Monte Handley
HIM Graduate Student Monte Handley
PPE on Parade
HIM Student Krista Kalthoff
HIM Student Krista Kalthoff
Many HIM professionals who work with CSS students are aware that we are evolving our Professional Practice Experience. Part of the process means moving the "Project" to the Affiliation (2 weeks at the end of March/beginning of April). Project topics will be requested in advance so students can begin researching and preparing before they arrive on site. Here is an example of an excellent project completed by Krista Kalthoff, 2012 graduate. (Completed for Trina Lower-Mercy Hospital, Moose Lake, MN.)

PROJECT (WHAT): Evaluate the current revenue cycle and identify areas for improvement to
have a positive impact on account receivable days.

PURPOSE (WHY): Streamline the accounts receivable (AR) cycle to ensure the timely and accurate charge capture, abstracting and coding of accounts and final bill submission. Goal is to have recommendations result in meeting or exceeding department goals of coding turnaround time, decreasing the number of days in AR and performing to the expectations of administration and governing board.

OUTCOME (Proof): Flowchart of current AR process (workflow analysis) with breakout flowcharts of areas needing improvement. Narrative analysis of current AR process with recommendations to improve the process(es). Additional supporting documentation provided as determined necessary by the student.

Click HERE to provide the HIIM Department with PPE project ideas or general feedback. 
Faculty Profile: Danika Brinda
HIM Faculty Danika Brinda
HIM Faculty Danika Brinda
We would like to welcome our newest faculty member. Danika Brinda, MA, RHIA came to the Department after working for Allina Health in Minneapolis for seven years as Region Manager of HIM. Danika's area of specialization is health information privacy and security. She teaches courses in both our undergraduate and graduate programs, including Medicolegal Issues, Clinical Data Management, and Management Tools and Strategies. Danika is also assisting with our Professional Practice Experience program this year, as well as working as a Field Staff for the Regional Extension and Assistance Center for HIT (REACH). Danika was presented the AHIMA Rising Star Award in 2010, is currently serving as the President-Elect of the Minnesota Health Information Management Association, and is earning her PhD in Information Technology with a specialization in information assurance and security. Welcome, Danika!
Student Profile: Martin Smith
CSS Graduate Student Martin Smith
CSS Graduate Student
Martin Smith

Hello, I am like many of you in that I have had to seek new careers a few times in my life for various reasons. I was born and raised in London where my first job was as a police constable working out of New Scotland Yard in the Metropolitan Police Service. I came to the United States in 1991 and since I was not yet a citizen I had to seek alternative employment and I ended up in a large hospital working in the safety and security department. It was there that I discovered an interest in medical issues and so at the ripe old age of 31 I enlisted in the US Army as a combat medic. I learned many things and after I got injured I used my medical knowledge to transfer into my current career, through the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program.


I now teach at Hodges University in Naples, FL in their HIM AS degree program. Although I already had a Masters degree in Education I decided to return to school to earn a masters degree in HIM at the College of St. Scholastica that would also allow me to sit for the RHIA credential. There were many choices but this school is still the gold standard and the staff and faculty are not only excellent HIM practitioners but also some of the nicest people you will ever meet!


My Final Applied Project or "FAP" as you will begin to learn is the culmination of your studies in the program. Mine is still under development and involves creating apps to help students to study for the credential they wish to earn. I would never have had the confidence to take on such an innovative project without the education and support of my teachers at the college.


I am a former director on the Florida Health Information Management Association board of directors and enjoy giving back both locally and on the state level through various volunteer activities. I encourage all of you to get involved, as it is a great way to network and find ways to get ahead in your chosen profession. You can earn a degree at any university but at St Scholastica I have my degree, a wonderful group of colleagues and a very real connection to a marvelous college that will remain with me for the rest of my life. 

Alumni Testimonial: Monica Pappas

CSS HIM Alumni Moncia Pappas
CSS HIM Alumni Monica Pappas

"Donating to the Sister Loretta Scholarship has become one of life's good habits!  I was fortunate enough to attend St. Scholastica with Shirley Eichenwald-Maki who was the 1st scholarship recipient.  All know the tremendous contributions she has made to the HIM profession and I know how important the scholarship was to her.  Sister Loretta passed away the year we were sophomores, but her presence was always felt in the curriculum.  As a supermarket cashier in Duluth during college I also had the privilege of getting to know Ms. Patricia Sheehan (Sister Loretta's sister) - a warm and knowledgeable woman.   I have also had the privilege of serving on the scholarship committee for many years and see first-hand the professional knowledge of CSS's students and the appreciation recipients have shown.  The Committee knows how important even small contributions are to the scholarship and encourages wider giving so students continue to benefit in this outstanding educational program." 


CSS Alumni, Monica Pappas, RHIA

HIM in the News
Healthcare industry feels the shortage of IT workers
HIIM Department Chair Ryan Sandefer is quoted in a recent Star Tribune story looking at the growing need for Health Information Management professionals and the educational options for those interested in entering the field...READ MORE

St. Scholastica expands online health information management degree program 
The Duluth News Tribune ran a recent story about the growth of our B.S. in HIM program... READ MORE
HIIM in the Community
HIIM Participates in Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival
HIIM Faculty members Pam Oachs, Amy Watters, Ryan Sandefer, as well as adjunct faculty member, David Marc and graduate student, Joe Janchar, paddled on the College of St. Scholastica team in the 2012 Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival in Superior, WI. For more information about the festival click HERE
CSS Dragon Boat Team
CSS Dragon Boat Team

Upcoming Events
AMIA Annual Symposium 
November 3-7, 2012 (Chicago)
 + Learn More

Webinar: Essential HIE Standards
Rita Scichilone
November 9, 2012
noon-1:00pm CST

Midwest HIMSS

November 11-13, 2012 (DesMoines)
+ Learn More

NEMHIMA Regional Meeting at CSS
November 15, 2012 (Duluth)

Webinar: Connecting Patients, Providers, and Payers 
Dr. John Halamka
December 12, 2012
noon-1:00 CST

HIMSS Annual Conference
March 3-7, 2012 (New Orleans)
Learn More
With the economic financial crisis today, students and families are stretched to afford a St. Scholastica education. 

As one of our teasured alums, we are reaching out to you to support the College with a gift to the Sister Loretta Scholarship Fund and/or the LaTour Eichenwald Forum.

Sister Loretta Sheehan Scholarship Fund
Includes the Patricia Pierce Memorial Graduate Scholarship and Sue Watkins Progression Scholarship
Give Now
"Donating to the Sister Loretta Scholarship has become one of life's good habits!  The [Sr. Loretta] Committee knows how important even small contributions are to the scholarship and encourages wider giving so students continue to benefit in this outstanding educational program." READ MORE
CSS Alumni, Monica Pappas, RHIA

LaTour Eichenwald Forum
Annual event on HIM Leadership and Innovation
Give Now  
Job Openings
REACH HIT Consultant     

The Regional Extension and Assistance Center for HIT


REACH, the Regional Extension and Assistance Center for HIT, is one of 62 Regional Extension Centers that serve primary care providers and small and rural hospitals in Minnesota and North Dakota as they embrace HIT and move toward Meaningful Use. REACH is looking to engage a contract HIT consultant. The ideal candidate will have experience in clinical settings and with EHR systems. An Informatics certificate/degree is highly desirable.
+ More info

Clinical Meta Data Analyst

University of Minnesota Medical School- Cardiovasculat Division (CV) via the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI)


Responsible for the development, maintenance, and promotion of a cardiovascular meta

data registry for the cardiovascular business, operational, and research data warehouse


+ More info

Project Supervisor

Just Associates 

Denver, CO 


Aides in the development of data reconcilation, project procedures and processes. Assists with project planing activities, procedure testing.

+ More info

Contact Us 
If you would like more information about our program or financial aid contact:

Ryan Sandefer
Chair, Health Informatics and Information Management Department
+ Email Ryan
+ (218) 625-4931
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The College of St. Scholastica - Department of HIIM | 1200 Kenwood Ave. | Duluth | MN | 55811