Mother and daughter nurses from Ark. support each other through coronavirus work at NY hospitals

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KATV/CNN) - An Arkansas mother and daughter, both nurses, are helping those battling the coronavirus in New York. They say it has been a scary and traumatizing experience but also an amazing one to share with each other.

For the past three weeks, nurse practitioner Uchenna Onyia-Murphy and her daughter, 23-year-old Ona Onyia, have been working tirelessly at hospitals in New York, not knowing what the next shift will bring. The two traveled from Arkansas on 21-day assignments.

Onyia-Murphy, who is working at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, says her other two children are concerned she might not come back to Arkansas safely. The mother is also concerned about Onyia’s safety.

Uchenna Onyia-Murphy, who is working as a nurse practitioner at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, says her other two children are concerned she might not come back to Arkansas safely.
Uchenna Onyia-Murphy, who is working as a nurse practitioner at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, says her other two children are concerned she might not come back to Arkansas safely. (Source: Uchenna Onyia-Murphy/KATV/CNN)

“Every day you go into work, you don’t know if you’re going to come out OK. You don’t know if you’re going to have COVID and survive it,” Onyia-Murphy said.

Onyia, a registered nurse who graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2018, says her experience with the virus has been overwhelming. She is working in the intensive care unit at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx.

"I feel like I've seen more deaths in my 21 nights than I've ever seen in my entire nursing career," Onyia said.

Ona Onyia, a 23-year-old registered nurse, says her experience with COVID-19 has been overwhelming. She is working in the intensive care unit at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx.
Ona Onyia, a 23-year-old registered nurse, says her experience with COVID-19 has been overwhelming. She is working in the intensive care unit at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. (Source: Uchenna Onyia-Murphy/KATV/CNN)

Though Onyia is an adult, she says her mother still manages to find a way to support her, and for that, she’s thankful.

“The other day, my mom handwashed my scrubs because I was so tired that I didn’t want to go to the laundromat. She came into my room and handwashed my scrubs for me,” she said.

Both mother and daughter say the experience has been scary and traumatizing at times, but they understand this is what they signed up for. Onyia says it has also been an amazing experience to share with her mother, and Onyia-Murphy says watching her daughter come into her own has been rewarding.

"I'm thinking, ‘Am I gonna survive this? Am I going to go down with my daughter?’ At the same time, it's like, ‘Whoa, we've made history. We did it together, girl," Onyia-Murphy said.

The two are staying in the same hotel but separate rooms as a way of practicing social distancing. Now done with their initial 21-day assignments, they intend to extend their time in New York for six weeks.

Copyright 2020 KATV, Uchenna Onyia-Murphy via CNN. All rights reserved.