It came without any warning. I had gone to the gym, had dinner with friends and then went grocery shopping. I got home and began putting the groceries away when I suddenly just fell to the floor. It was the strangest feeling – I knew something was terribly wrong and managed to reach the phone. But I didn’t know how to use the phone. By some miracle, I managed to call my husband Jim at work. He recognized our number but said he only heard mumbling. He called 911 from his office in Tonawanda and then jumped in the car to head to our house in East Aurora. The EMTs arrived and took me to the nearest emergency department, Mercy Hospital. I am so grateful they did.

Jim was right by my side in the ER. I underwent test after test including an MRI and in a short time, we knew what happened. I had a stroke resulting in Broca’s aphasia due to damage to a specific language region in the frontal lobe of the brain called Broca’s area. I could not speak. Now, I can’t stop talking about the care I received at Mercy Hospital.

From the moment we arrived, the doctors and staff were so calming and knowledgeable. My blood pressure was through the roof and they knew exactly what to do to ensure the proper treatment. Then the neuro team in the ICU took over including vascular neurology specialist Dr. Steve Dofitas. He was so patient and kind, explaining everything to Jim about what had happened and what were the next steps. Most important, he looked me in the eye and told me I was going to be okay. That meant the world to me.

From the ICU to my regular room, to speech and PT in the stroke rehab unit, all the doctors, nurses and therapists were so friendly and supportive. Jim was with me 24/7, sleeping at the hospital, and he commented on the incredible care as well. They were key to getting me started on the road to recovery. Quite simply, Mercy Hospital saved my life.

I grew stronger and stronger, and now, one year later I am back to living a normal life. While I am still in speech therapy, I have zero physical problems from the stroke. I can drive and work around the house and can’t wait to get back to my gardens in the spring. I recently completed a 38-year career with the Red Cross and plan to enjoy retired life with a renewed enthusiasm.

I am delighted to recognize Dr. Dofitas and his entire team. Please consider showing support for your special caregivers, with a donation to Mercy Hospital Foundation. To make your gift, please visit their website to make your secure donation online at Any and every contribution is appreciated. If you have had your own great experience with a caregiver at Mercy Hospital, this is your opportunity to honor the great work that they do. Simply fill the Angel of Care form to share your story.

With deepest gratitude,

Rosemary Olchawski