Finding summer employment is part of the job description for most teachers. Charmaine Vinton was fortunate that when the school bell rang for the final time every June, she had a standing opportunity at her father’s medical practice in the town of Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. What Charmaine didn’t count on, however, was having that job turn into a new and exciting career.
The healthcare coding and billing tasks Charmaine performed for her father were a distant cry from teaching elementary school math and science. Yet the appeal was undeniable. “You felt like you were a detective,” she recalls. “The codes changed. You had to learn all the new techniques. It kept you involved in the clinical part even though you weren’t clinical.”
Along with her new career path, Charmaine decided a change of scenery was necessary. She had fond memories of family getaways to their Vermont vacation home near Burke Mountain. It was a major factor in her decision to attend Lyndon State College, so why not go back to the Green Mountain State to pursue her new direction? She applied to several places in Vermont, but ultimately accepted an offer from Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. Brattleboro seemed like a good geographic compromise between New Jersey and the Northeast Kingdom. Now she and her husband, Doug, and their yellow labrador, Butters, have the enviable option to head north for a backwoods hike or down to the Jersey Shore for a family visit.
Charmaine’s career shift also came at a time when the field of Health Information Management was rapidly transforming. She juggled her full-time job at BMH with online coursework, earning an Associate’s Degree in Records and Health Information Technology as well as professional coding certifications from the American Health Information Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders. These credentials prepared Charmaine well for the age of Electronic Health Records. It wasn’t long before she assumed the mantle of Director of Health Information at the hospital.
Almost 10 years later, Charmaine is still passionate about her work. She sees her job as a continuation of the care the hospital provides for patients and she wouldn’t trade it for anything. “Many times in the larger hospitals you have to mail your request or leave a phone message. We are open to the public,” she says. “Some people are very surprised when they come in. They think there’s going to be a lot of red tape. It’s a big relief for them when they realize we are working for them just like the doctors and nurses.”
Charmaine’s love for BMH and the community it serves also compels her to give back to the hospital, both through her own monetary contributions and helping with fundraising. Most recently, she was part the hospital’s efforts to encourage fellow employees to contribute to the Emergency Department renovation and expansion project.
“I believe in BMH. The hospital is a big part of the community. I feel people deserve access to exceptional medical care, and it’s important to sustain and improve our current initiatives,” says Charmaine. “We have a great team of doctors, nurses and staff, and I’m proud to be a part of this team. I can honestly tell my friends and co-workers that BMH is truly worth supporting.“