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Pierce County hospitals on high alert after woman tries to access newborn babies

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TACOMA, Wash. – Officials at several Pierce County hospitals are warning staff members to be on alert after a woman has repeatedly tried to access family birth centers.

Security at Tacoma General Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, MultiCare Auburn Medical Center and MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital has been increased following the incidents.

MultiCare Health System spokesperson Marce Edwards said the woman, described as African-American and in her mid-30s to 40s, was identified and escorted out of the facilities each time she tried to access units with babies.

“This situation tested our processes and they were successful,” Edwards said Sunday.

The woman has not taken or touched any babies, Edwards said. However, hospital officials aren’t sure of her intent and are taking the incidents very seriously.

MultiCare Health Systems says they have filed a report with police. Q13 News is not showing the woman’s face because she has not been charged with a crime or identified as a suspect by Tacoma police.

Visitors to the birth centers and Mary Bridge units are required to sign in and show identification before coming into the units, Edwards said. Hospital staff will escort all visitors to the room they intend to visit.

Shannon Musser just welcomed her first grandchild at Tacoma General and said she noticed the increased security.

"We were pretty much on the floor but we did notice when new people were coming up the front desk on the birthing unit were pretty stringent on what they were doing," said Musser.

An email was also sent to employees of the area hospitals, notifying workers of the increased security measures and encouraging employees to “remain vigilant.”

“It’s possible that this person could attempt to change appearance or wear medical clothing to avoid detection,” the email read.

Maggie Leuzarder, a spokesperson with CHI Franciscan Health, also said the "person in question" was denied access to St. Joseph Medical Center.

"At CHI Franciscan Health, the health, safety and security of our patients is our top priority," Leuzarder said. "We are closely monitoring the situation and are taking the appropriate measures to ensure that our patients remain secure."

Hospital visitors and patrons say they will be vigilant, too.

"Definitely will be more aware of people coming in and out; definitely have my eyes open to that process at various hospitals," said Ray Im, whose son was delivered at St. Joseph Medical Center.