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Texas family drives 2 hours, supports from parking lot while 16-year-old battles COVID-19 at Texas Children’s Hospital

HOUSTON – One Texas family is not giving up on seeing their loved one at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Charlee Swearingen has been fighting COVID-19 at the hospital since Tuesday.

“I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to quit fighting,” said her father Kevin Swearingen said.

This health battle has been tough for the Swearingen family. The family is doing everything they can to see her, but the hospital is only allowing one caregiver to be inside the room.

Her mother Jana Swearingen has been the 16-year-old since she arrived at the hospital. While her dad and siblings cannot see her because of strict COVID-19 guidelines.

But that is not stopping the family from finding creative ways to show their support or pushing the hospital to change their policy. The family also lives in Lumberton, Texas about two hours east from Houston and have made the commute a few times so far.

“I would do whatever it takes,” Kevin said. “With COVID-19, it really hit her hard and she went straight from our house straight into ICU straight onto a ventilator."

Charlee’s father said she is fighting for her life.

“I need to be with my family,” Kevin said. “It’s so frustrating, and my wife is up there carrying this whole load by herself. It’s a stressful situation for her.”

To help relieve some of the stress, the Swearingens found a way to see Charlee.

One Texas family is not giving up on seeing their loved one at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
One Texas family is not giving up on seeing their loved one at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. (KPRC)

Kevin said he was able to match up the buildings and found a vantage point into his daughter’s room. Then he drove to the 11th floor of the parking lot and wrote a note on the back of his truck that Charlee could see from her hospital room.

"Just to put a smile on her face because I know how hard it is up there,” Kevin said.

Charlee’s siblings also held up different signs showing their love, while Jana and Charlee watched.

“It was a lot of effort for them just to bring a little bit to me,” Jana told KPRC 2 over the phone Sunday. She said she is not allowed to leave the hospital room.

This is a similar, yet, stressful situation for many families during this pandemic.

Kevin said his family has received an overwhelming amount of support from people all over the state.

U.S. Representative Randy Weber and state representative James White have also tried to assist the family in seeking visitation.

Kevin said he is praying the hospital will let him see his daughter.

Texas Children’s Hospital released the following statement:

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.