First Class Solutions, Inc.

Serving the Healthcare Industry Since 1988
Meet Our Staff

Our strength lies in having a team of professionals with years of health information, coding and coding compliance, utilization and quality management, and fiscal services expertise from working in various sized hospitals, IDNs, ambulatory environments, skilled and long-term care facilities, third party payer organizations, and physician practices. This team has become expert in transforming difficult and deteriorated situations to optimal, fine-tuned departments. 

We are confident that the team we assemble to serve you will prove to be technically strong, highly efficient, and innovative in their approach to serving your organization. Our team will have the support of each other and the corporate staff to ensure that we bring to you the “change agent,” “visionary,” and “maintenance” skills that your organization requires. We recognize that each of our clients is unique. Our professionals will approach each engagement as a new set of circumstances knowing that there are no “off the shelf” solutions for any one client. We tailor each engagement to your specific needs.

Our consultants are credentialed, certified, experienced professionals with years (and decades) of experience in their respective areas of expertis
Chief Operating Officer

Ms. Dunn is the “nuts & bolts” member of the firm. Her health information management and senior administrative experience in a large teaching hospital and chief financial officer background in a multi-hospital system coupled with her national managed care AVP position with a large health care insurance company allows her to see the health care industry from any perspectives.

Rose is a nationally recognized professional in the health information industry and has served as Interim CEO, President and Board member of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the national association representing more than 100,000 health information professionals. During her career, she has spoken publicly on numerous occasions, held adjunct faculty positions in baccalaureate and master degree programs, and has authored a prolific list of publications, both texts and articles. In 1997, Rose was awarded AHIMA’s highest honor—the Distinguished Member Award, in 2008 she received AHIMA’s Legacy Award, and in 2011 AHIMA’s Outstanding Service Award.
Deanna M. Peterson, MHA, BS, RHIA, CHPS, LNHA
Senior Vice President, Operations and LTPAC Services

Deanna’s expertise in regulations, compliance, quality improvement document imaging, release of information and department management spans a variety of healthcare settings. Ms. Peterson has directed HIM departments in large teaching institutions and community hospitals. Her success rate in reducing backlogs, implementing efficient workflow processes, establishing effective clinical documentation improvement programs, and improving employee morale and physician satisfaction are a few accomplishments mentioned by her clients.
Pamela L. Scott, RHIT, CCS, CRC, CCDS
AHIMA Approved ICD-10CM/PCS Trainer
Vice President, Coding Support and Compliance Service

Pam provides coding support and coding compliance services for our clients. She has served as a coding mentor to many of our clients’ coders and especially those new to the coding field. Our clients often compliment her on her caring attitude and quality of her work. Certified in risk-adjustment coding (HCCs), Pam has participated in governmental audits of Medicare Advantage plans and can assist clients in understanding the nuances of this coding system
Maria B. Brooks-Swims, RHIA, CCS, CRC, CCDS
AHIMA Approved ICD-10CM/PCS Trainer
Vice President, Coding Support and Compliance Services

Maria is our world traveler and now resides in Alabama. She has HIM management experience serving as a Director and Assistant Director of HIM and as a Coding Manager. Her consulting experience includes providing coding support, conducting both inpatient and outpatient coding compliance reviews, and providing coding guidance to our clients. She established a coding internship program and often mentors coding apprentices and new coding professionals for our clients. For our firm, she serves as the primary internal auditor of our 30+ coders’ coding quality.
David Vence, MHI, MA, BS, RHIA, CPC, CRC
Assistant Vice President, Professional Coding Support and Compliance Services

David worked his way up through the health information environment and has experience in just about everything, including filing and analysis. However, his fine-tuned expertise is in professional coding and educating physicians on documentation requirements to support the care they delivered and their claims. Known for his great sense of humor, he is our firm’s internal comedia
Christine E. Geiger, MA, RHIA, CCS, CRC
AHIMA Approved ICD-10CM/PCS Trainer
Assistant Vice President,
Senior Acute and Post-Acute Coding Consultant

Chris’ career in health information management started in 1986. She has worked at large and mid-sized health care facilities in many roles where she gained a thorough understanding of health information management. Her coding career, which began in 1986, includes working in hospitals as both an employee and a consultant. Her work with Skilled Nursing Facilities includes medical record compliance reviews and ICD-10 coding support, audits and education. She helped author education programs for ICD-10 coding in preparation for PDPM, and has served as an instructor for ICD-10 education co-sponsored by the Missouri Healthcare Association, Missouri Leading Age and Missouri League of Nursing. Chris’ experience also includes working in quality assurance, service analyst, and currently, as a coding instructor for Saint Louis University. She is certified in the risk adjusted coding requirements of HCCs and provides coding support and coding compliance services for our clients. Chris holds a Master’s degree from Washington University and a B.S. degree from Saint Louis University. She is an active member of the Missouri and American Health Information Management Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders.
Susan L. Begemann-Kassebaum, RHIA, CCS
Former AHIMA Approved ICD-10CM/PCS Trainer
Senior Coding Consultant

One of our longest-term team members, Susan joined our firm in 1996. She has extensive experience in all aspects of inpatient and outpatient clinical coding. She has worked for large and small acute care facilities. Ms. Kassebaum has conducted coding compliance audits for clients and routinely provides coding support services.
Susan lives outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area and is an active member of the Missouri and American Health Information Management Associations. She graduated from St. Louis University’s Health Information Management program where she achieved Dean’s Honor List status for three consecutive years.
Sally M. Frese, MSN, RN, BC, CPC
Senior Professional Coding Consultant

Sally's impressive healthcare career started in 1978 and includes clinical services and care, leadership, consultation, and education. In the past, she has worked in the Emergency Department, various patient care areas including psychiatry, participated in research, served as a clinical faculty instructor for the Saint Louis School of Nursing, and then settled into coding and documentation compliance activities. Her coding career started in 1999, where she served as a healthcare compliance educator and auditor responsible for the development and implementation of a multitude of documentation, billing, coding, regulatory and compliance programs for a 350-member academic health practice. 
Cassie L. Neff, RHIT, CCS
Senior Coding Consultant

Cassie joined First Class Solutions in 2013 and lives in Kansas. She provides inpatient coding support for our clients and has both inpatient and outpatient coding skills. Her preparation for ICD-10 included completion of the Elsevier ICD-10 training program. Ms. Neff is an honor graduate of Hutchinson Community College where she obtained her associates degree in Health Information Technology. She is a member of the Kansas and American Health Information Management Associations.
Tammy L. Laffin, CCS
Senior Coding Consultant

Ms. Laffin joined our firm in 2013 after relocating to Oregon. She is a graduate of the Coding Specialist Program of Loma Linda University School of Allied Health. She provides inpatient coding support for our clients and has extensive experience coding for the complex environments of teaching facilities. She has served as a coding mentor for our clients.

In addition to inpatient coding skills, Tammy has outpatient and interventional radiology coding skills. In preparation for ICD-10, she completed the Elsevier ICD-10 training program. Prior to venturing into the coding arena, Ms. Laffin was a financial counselor for a large teaching hospital. Tammy is a member of the Oregon and American Health Information Management Associations.
Karen J. Bell, AAS, RHIT, CCS, CRC
AHIMA Approved ICD-10CM/PCS Trainer
Assistant Vice President
Acute and Post - Acute Coding Services

Karen joined our firm in 2015 and brought her 11 years of coding experience with her. She is experienced in both inpatient and outpatient coding and support several clients with their coding needs. Our clients often compliment Karen on her sunny personality.

Ms. Bell also has experience auditing inpatient outpatient coding and recognized for knowledge of CCI edits, scrubber issues, and code discrepancies. Karen obtained her Associate Degree of Applied Science in Health Information Technology from Missouri Western State University. Karen is an active member of the Missouri and American Health Information Associations.
Benjamin W. Burton, JD, MBA, RHIA, CHPS, CHC, CRC, CPC
Consultant, Health Information Management

Ben joined First Class Solutions in 2010 and brought his impressive credentials and work history. Ben’s experience includes serving as a hospital HIM Director, Privacy Officer, Coding and Billing Specialist, Compliance Manager, and instructor for Stephens College. Additionally, he has been involved with EHR conversions and as an attorney, he has experience with drafting, critiquing and editing contracts and investigating tort claims. 

For our clients, Ben conducts operational assessments and routine health information management department reviews, and has served as Interim Director, Privacy Officer, Physician Practice Coding Manager, and Compliance Director roles. Mr. Burton also has assisted clients with evaluating their HCC coding compliance and provided ProFee coding support. He is often involved in revenue cycle enhancement activities.
Barbara A. Buescher, AS, RHIT, CCS, Senior Coding Compliance Consultant

In 2021, Barbara came to the First Class Solutions with 12 years of data integrity and auditing experience and 11 years of coding knowledge. We welcomed her extensive skills. She supports our clients’ coding integrity needs by conducting coding reviews, validating the coding of mortality cases pre-bill, and working closely with quality departments in assessing cases coded with HAC related codes. Additionally, Barbara provides coding support for several clients. She holds an Associate of Science Degree in Health Information Technology from St. Charles County College and is a member of the Missouri and American Health Information Management Associations. A lover of horses, Barbara and her spouse live in Missouri.
Amy Jo Combs, RHIT, CCS
Senior Coding Compliance Consultant

Joining our firm in 2021, Amy Jo brings a positive and jovial personality to her daily work. She supports three of our clients, a specialty organization with multiple locations, a multi-campus community IDN, and a nationally recognized research entity with a unique and challenging case mix.
With an extensive list of experience in medical coding, auditing, and transcription, Amy Jo has both inpatient and outpatient coding experience. She has been responsible for providing education to new and experienced coders, for auditing for all types of inpatient record types, and for providing coding support.
She obtained her CPC in 2010 and then followed that with a degree in health information technology and her RHIT credential and then her CCS. She also was an AHIMA certified ICD-10CM/PCS trainer. Amy Jo is also EPIC certified and is proficient with EPIC, 3M, Meditech, CAC and HDM. Finally, Ms. Combs has served as an adjunct professor teaching an array of coding courses.
Ms. Combs is a graduate of Anne Arundel Community College and holds an AS of Science and Premedical Professional-Biology. She is an active member of the Maryland HIMA and AHIMA.
Colleen M. Carnara, BS, CCS, Coding Compliance Consultant

Colleen joined our firm in 2019 to provide coding support for one of our largest and most challenging and complex clients. She has been coding inpatient and outpatient records since 2015. In 2022, she started supporting our coding compliance activities and continues to participate in coding compliance services by performing coding validation reviews and pre-bill coding accuracy and completeness reviews of mortality discharges. Colleen has a diploma in Medical Administration from the Lansdale School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from LaSalle University. She is a member of the Pennsylvania and American Health Information Management Associations.
W. Kathleen Kelley, BS, AAS, COS, RN, RHIT
Coding Consultant

Kathy joined First Class Solutions, Inc. in 2013. She currently supports one of our most complex governmental clients. She has extensive experience in healthcare. She has served as a medical records director for 14 years. She has spent 30 years in veterinary medicine as well as animal poison control. Kathy directly cared for patients as a registered nurse for 10 years in ICU, ambulatory, and home health settings and continues to use her RN experience to conduct HEDIS reviews. In addition to having a thorough understanding of ICD-10CM, Kathy is an expert in and educator for SNOMED CT. Kathy is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and a member of the Illinois and American Health Information Management Associations.
Jodi Worthington, CCS-P, CEMC
Coding Consultant, Outpatient and Professional Coding Services

Jodi joined First Class Solutions in November 2021 with 22 years of coding and coding auditing experience. Ms. Worthington has extensive experience in all areas of outpatient coding including interventional radiology, ER, surgery, observation, diagnostic radiology, vascular surgery, wound care, clinic, ancillary and recurring encounters. Additionally, as a CCS-P and CEMC, she has expertise in E&M assignment and auditing. She is also experienced in edits and denials management. Jodi is currently serving one of our prestigious Federal government entities. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.