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Man desperate to see daughter with COVID-19 in Houston hospital with single visitor policy

Charlee's mother is there with the teen, but only one visitor is allowed in with COVID-19 patients at Texas Children's Hospital.

HOUSTON, Texas — A Lumberton father is fighting to see his daughter after she was admitted to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston with coronavirus almost a week ago.

Charlee Swearingen, 16, has Rett syndrome, a rare genetic mutation which affects brain development in girls. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator at the hospital.

Her mom has been by her side, but the hospital's visitor policy only allows for one visitor at a time because of the pandemic. But her dad, Kevin Swearingen has not been able to be by her side.

Patients who are not COVID-19 positive can have two visitors who can be in the room with them one at a time. They can swap out every 24 hours according to a statement from the hospital.

Because Charlee has COVID-19 she can only have one visitor "but there are no 'in-and-out' visitor privileges for these patients" according to the hospital.

With Charlee now on a ventilator, Swearingen hopes to join his wife before it's too late. 

With her condition getting worse, Swearingen has been holding signs outside the hospital to help boost her spirits.   

Swearingen believes what's best for his daughter is being surrounded by loved ones. 

RELATED: 'Never left alone,' Southeast Texas man sets out on 16-mile run in support of COVID-19 patients in hospitals alone

"I truly believe it's a lot of healing in just the voices your familiar with that talks to you everyday, that lift your spirts up. Maybe make you feel a little bit better and that's all I'm wanting to do is see my daughter because I don't know if I'm ever gonna get the chance to again," Swearingen said. 

He said he has tested negative for COVID-19, along with all of Charlee's siblings. They're willing to do whatever is takes to see her. 

State Representative James White has reached out to Governor Greg Abbott, along with hospital officers in an effort to try to get Swearingen access to his daughter as she fights for her life. 

Posted by State Rep James White on Monday, September 28, 2020

"People are dying from COVID-related concerns. But that doesn't mean that we can't look at the science and evaluate the science and follow common sense measures," White said. 

In a statement, the hospital told 12News that the highest priority is the safety and health of patients. 

"We need our families’ assistance and support in protecting our patients, families and caregivers by following our visitation restrictions," a spokesperson said in the statement.

"Two fit parents should not have to pick and choose which parent remains with a child who is seriously, seriously ill," White said.  

White is asking the governor to clarify if hospitals can have discretion in allowing both parents to be by the side of a sick child. As of Sunday night, he hasn't received a response.  

Daddy is headed your way Charlee! I’m doing everything that I know to do to get in and see you and Mom...#letmein

Posted by Kevin Swearingen on Saturday, September 26, 2020

Full statement from Texas Children's Hospital:

We know this is a challenging time for our entire community, even more so for those families who have an ill child in need of hospitalization. At Texas Children’s our highest priority is the health and safety of those we serve. We need our families’ assistance and support in protecting our patients, families and caregivers by following our visitation restrictions. 

In compliance with Texas Health and Human Services’ current mandatory rule, patients admitted to the hospital are limited to one parent or primary caregiver over the age of 18 at any given time. Patients who are COVID-19 negative may select up to two caregivers who can alternate their visitation every 24 hours. Patients who are COVID-19 positive may also have one visitor with them, but there are no “in-and-out” visitor privileges for these patients.

Additionally, all patients and caregivers are subject to screening (exposure and symptom questions, and a temperature check) upon arrival. Visitors who are sick will not be permitted to enter the Hospital: this is without exception. We encourage visitors, when appropriate, to remain closely connected to their loved ones through virtual means, including FaceTime or phone.