Franklin County medical coders no longer have to trek to St. Louis County in order to attend an American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) chapter meeting.

An AAPC chapter was established in Franklin County for the first time in May.

The St. Louis West Chapter of AAPC was the nearest organization and held meetings at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield.

Morgan Jones, Franklin County AAPC chapter president and a Mercy Clinic medical coder, said the distance made it tough for local medical coders to get involved with the group.

“We were talking to other coders in the same boat as we are. I knew of people who couldn’t make the commute,” Jones said.

A medical coder’s main responsibility is to translate health care jargon from a medical record and make sure it has the correct universal code for billing purposes.

For example, they can take a physician’s note and make sure it has the right code attached to it for insurance carriers to bill properly. The AAPC allows medical coders to interact and learn from each other.

“A group of coders in the Mercy Clinic have been certified for a few years. Chapter meetings have been tough to attend, so we decided to start one in Franklin County,” Jones said.

Along with Jones, Tammy King, Rita James, Kathleen Latham and Amy Eads helped start the chapter. They didn’t realize how quickly the Franklin County chapter would grow as there are already 48 members. That’s without an official first chapter meeting.

“I thought about creating a chapter, but recently had a baby,” Jones said. “I started hearing people couldn’t get to the meetings (in Chesterfield). I just didn’t know how many people wanted to get involved.”

The first official chapter meeting will be held at Zion United Church of Christ, 115 S. Washington Ave., in Union Tuesday, June 11, at 6:30 p.m.

Prospective members can attend three meetings for free. It costs $25 to join for a full year.

Potential members don’t need to be certified to join, but being on track for certification makes chapter meetings a great place to learn from seasoned coders.

According to Jones, the AAPC provides a place for medical coders to network with other coders in the region, mentor and learn new methods of coding.

Currently, there are members affiliated with Mercy, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Missouri-Columbia and others.

“I just want coders everywhere to feel comfortable,” Jones said.

For more information on how to join, people can attend the June 11 meeting or email franklincountyaapc@gmail.com.