Memorial Hermann denies woman battling COVID in ICU visit from her pastor, family says

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A woman fighting COVID-19 in Memorial Hermann's Intensive Care Unit is asking for her pastor, but the hospital's policy won't allow him to visit.

That pastor and the patient's grandchild are pushing back, and they believe they have the law behind them.

Mary Dowdy is a devout believer. She's a deaconess and decades-long member of East Houston Revival Center.

Though her family said she's vaccinated, Dowdy wound up in Memorial Hermann's emergency room and tested positive for COVID-19.

Her granddaughter, Jessica McBride, said, "I was with her for two days in the ER. On the third day, when they moved her upstairs, all of a sudden she went into isolation. They said I could not be there."

SEE ALSO: Memorial Hermann adjusts visiting policy as COVID-19 cases decline in Houston

McBride said that before her grandmother went on a ventilator, she asked for her pastor to come to the hospital and pray for her. That request was denied.

The hospital's policy states that visitors aren't allowed if a physician determines it may result in transmission, or pose a serious risk to community health.

That rule didn't sit right with Pastor Charles Tutt.

"Honestly, I think Mary needs the physical contact," Tutt said. "She needs to have me up there so I can lay hands on her and pray for her. She needs to know someone is there."

According to state code, inpatient health care facilities cannot prohibit members of clergy from visiting patients during a public health emergency when requested. It also states visits can be done in a manner deemed appropriate by the facility.

Memorial Hermann responded with the following statement:

"Memorial Hermann is unable to comment on specific patients due to privacy laws. With respect to hospital visitation, Memorial Hermann's Visitor Policy is in full compliance with the law. For those patients with restricted visitation, Memorial Hermann offers alternative ways to stay connected to loved ones and other visitors. As the number of new COVID-19 cases declines throughout our community, Memorial Hermann will review and modify its Visitor Policy as appropriate. Memorial Hermann's priority is keeping our patients, workforce and community safe and healthy. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated and practice the 3 W's - wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands."

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