Cooper Staff Helps Reunite German Family

Ms Wahl and her sister

Former Cooper patient Selma Wahl (right) is reunited with her sister Anita in Germany.

Thanks to the efforts and dedication of the staff at Cooper University Health Care, a 49-year-old German citizen recently was reunited with long-lost family in her native country.

The journey began in August 2016 when Selma Wahl, a German citizen who had been living in South Jersey, was found unconscious at the base of the stairs at a friend’s home. Ms. Wahl, who suffered seizures and difficulties related to a prior stroke, was brought to Cooper, where she was evaluated and treated.

Because Ms. Wahl did not have family living in the United States, the staff of the Transitional Care Department, together with the Finance, Legal, and Health Care Access departments, began working to locate relatives in Germany, according to Susan Coutinho McAllister, MD, Medical Director of the Care Management Department at Cooper.

cooper team says goodbye

Cooper staff bid farewell to Stella Wahl (center). From left, Dr. Susan McAllister; advanced practice nurse Bryan Fromkin, RN; manager Ina Akins, Health Care Access; and Miguel Maldonado, patient financial counselor, Patient Accounting.

“Our staff worked with our patient and local partners to obtain her expired passport and then enlisted the assistance of the German consulate in identifying and locating the patient’s siblings in rural Germany,” recalled Dr. McAllister. “We were finally able to reach Ms. Wahl’s siblings. They hadn’t seen her in 30 years and were overjoyed to hear that their sister was alive and happy to bring her home where she could be cared for by her loved ones.”

After a lengthy hospital stay, and dressed and packed with clothing and gifts from the Cooper staff and fellow patients and families, Ms. Wahl was discharged to begin her journey back to her homeland. At the Stuttgart airport, Ms. Wahl was met by her sister, Anita.

“The staff of the Transitional Care Department is extremely dedicated and thorough in arranging for a patients’ continued care following discharge from the hospital. Not every case involves international cooperation, but we are extremely delighted to have played a part in reuniting this family across the world,” said Dr. McAllister.



Stella Wahl bids her new friends at Cooper a fond farewell as she embarks on her journey back to Germany.


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