(CNN)The first thing Rosaura Quinteros noticed was his fear.
The man lay alone in his pressurized room at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando. He had a severe case of Covid-19, and it looked like he was losing the battle.
A Catholic priest came to administer last rites. The patient, Jason Denney, said goodbye to his family via FaceTime.
But Quinteros, a hospital housekeeper, urged Denney not to lose hope.
She told him his life was in good hands, both the doctors' and God's. She said God was not done with Denney and encouraged him to keep fighting.
As the coronavirus pandemic has forced hospitals to impose strict restrictions on visitors and clergy, the work of people like Quinteros has become even more important, say health care experts.
They don't just keep the rooms clean of harmful germs. Many also try to lighten the mood with smiles or jokes, provide encouragement when patients lose hope and offer an attentive ear when patients need to process their emotions.
And so it was that a housekeeper from Guatemala and a retired Air Force colonel met in a hospital room in Florida. And slowly, one began to heal the other.
"I don't think she realized at the time what she was doing for me," Denney told CNN in recent interview. "She was saving my life."