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LEHI — A Utah woman said goodbye to her family before leaving to help treat COVID-19 patients in New Jersey for the next 15 weeks.
Aina Togia’i, a respiratory therapist, and her family said Saturday they consider this to be the service opportunity of a lifetime.
“Tomorrow I leave at about 11 o’clock. I’m going to a place that I’ve never been,” Togia’i said. “I’m a little nervous, but I know all the positives that would come from it.”
Hospitals in the area are facing a major shortage of respiratory therapists to provide critical care for COVID-19 patients on ventilators, which is why Togia’i will fly out to the Garden State on Sunday.
“The virus is coming down from New York and making its way to D.C.,” she said. “I’m going to Robert Wood Johnson University — they have over 600 beds.”
Togia’i said she will hopefully remain at the hospital, which is located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, until August.
“They really need help. They have 18 respiratory therapists and they still are really, really busy — they have a lot of patients,” Togia’i said.
Togia’i and family members gathered in Lehi to say goodbye and remember her father, who died last month.
“He supported me in my profession and schooling and so I thought it was only fitting to visit before I go,” she said.
Going is something her husband, children and other family members felt was right.
“It’s an emotional thing because she’s my hero. I don’t want to cry, but it’s part of God’s plan for sure, and I know that she is going to help so many people in New Jersey,” shared Togia’i’s daughter Lyric Togia’i.
Much like a mission, they said was this as an opportunity to serve others.
“When I treat people, I treat them as if they are my family,” Aina Togia’i said. “You try to do everything you can and sometimes everything you can just isn’t enough, and I understand that. That’s life, you know. But to know that I’ve done everything I can is enough.”
Togia’i said she will have to quarantine for two weeks before being able to fly back home and she hopes to be back in August.