Claudia Corradini always knew she was meant to be a nurse.
"If someone hurt themselves I would always be there to sort it out and help them when I was little," she said.
"I remember a girl fell over and broke her arm, I went into this nurse mode, I think I am just meant to do this."
For a decade Ms Corradini has been caring for patients and educating new graduates at Canberra Hospital. After years of training and months of preparation of the ward now dedicated to COVID-19 patients Ms Corradini was hit with an initial feeling of anxiety when the first patient arrived in March.
"There was a sort of apprehension but as a nurse you just overcome those things and you just have to get through it because you're looking after people," she said.
"That patient was quite scared as well, so you're trying to be not scared yourself and support them through this.
"They're in a glass window and you're trying to communicate with them on the phone."
Ms Corradini is one of a few Canberra Hospital nurses trained as an infectious threat responder prepared for viruses including Ebola and MERS, and her role from the moment COVID-19 became a threat has been to teach and prepare staff for what might happen next.
"I would kind of be the conduit between the infection control team and the ward. I would get the information from infection control and deliver that to the ward and train staff up. Not all the staff were infectious threat responders at the start but now they pretty much are," she said.
In two weeks the 16-bed ward was completely redesigned by Ms Corradini and an "amazing" team to fit the specific needs of coronavirus patients.
"You have to create zones in the ward. You'll have a clean area and then the patient's room will be more of a red zone. Then in between that you have a dress up station," she said.
"You want as little people in the ward so you want to have the right processes set up so the kitchen can send up the meals and we can deliver them to the patients.
"Once we've come into the ward we don't leave. Staff will shower after their shift and we have change rooms they made for us. They've turned basically the whole floor into a COVID-19 (ward)."
In a surreal and daunting situation Ms Corradini is grateful for the team around her from within the ward to those beyond sending video messages checking in on their colleagues.
"It was quite overwhelming to begin with but now when we go to work everyone is in good spirits. The team make it so much easier to come to work every day ... the camaraderie is just amazing and the motivation, too," she said.
Since January Ms Corradini has been working with the team to prepare the hospital for the worst-case scenario and while she is confident everything is in place, the idea of lifting restrictions too early concerns her.
"We don't want to be overrun," she said.
Ms Corradini urged the community to stay at home and continue social distancing while she and her team worked tirelessly to prepare as best they could.
"We will get through this and we can," she said.
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