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Texas Children's Hospital changing COVID-19 visitor policy after Lumberton father pleads to see ill daughter

Kevin Swearingen wasn't able to see his daughter for nearly a week. Now, thanks to the policy change, he can be with his wife and child in the hospital

HOUSTON, Texas — A Houston hospital is changing its visitor policy after a Lumberton father made an emotional plea to see his ill daughter. 

Kevin Swearingen's 16-year-old daughter has COVID-19 and has been placed on a ventilator at Texas Children's Hospital. 

Charlee is fighting for her life in the hospital, and her mother has been by her side for almost a week. She's also living with a brain disease. 

The hospital's policy for COVID-19 positive patients only allowed one visitor in, leaving Swearingen outside the hospital while his wife and daughter had to stay inside. 

"I can't imagine what's she thinking, you know," Swearingen said. "My daughter or my wife."

On Monday, Swearingen was finally allowed in to see his daughter. The hospital said Monday evening that the policy will be changed, effective Tuesday, to allow COVID-19 positive patients to bring 2 visitors into the hospital. 

"You put yourself in someone else shoes just for a few minutes, and understand the pain and anguish they are feeling in a situation like this, it will definitely change your mind," Swearingen said. 

RELATED: Lumberton dad makes emotional plea, fights single-visitor policy to be by daughter's side as she fights COVID-19

Right now, the family has to decide whether their oldest daughter will remain on life support. 

"It's a decision that no father ever wants to make, I can promise you that and this is what I was worried about from beginning not being able to be here to see what was going on leading up to this decision," Swearingen said. "I wouldn't want anyone to go through what I've gone through or what my wife is going through this entire situation. "

Full statement from Texas Children's Hospital: 

In accordance with State guidelines released Friday, and protocols Texas Children’s has had in place for months, 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.

We are constantly evaluating our visitation guidelines as we know how challenging this can be for families who have a child in need of specialized care. At Texas Children’s our highest priority is the health and safety of those we serve, and we need the community’s support in adhering to our visitation restrictions to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

As of Sept. 29, patients who are COVID-19 negative undergoing surgery or admitted to the hospital may have two designated primary caregivers over the age of 18 with them at any given time. Patients who are COVID-19 positive may designate up to two caregivers who can alternate their visitation every 72 hours, but the caregiver must remain in the patient’s room. In our outpatient hospital settings, one or two visitor(s) over the age of 18 will be permitted, depending on space constraints in each setting to allow for adequate social distancing practices.

We also understand there may be extenuating circumstances for certain families. Given the specialized and vulnerable populations we serve, our teams work with families on a case-by-case basis for those instances to make accommodations, while doing what we can to protect our patients, visitors and caregivers.

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