Story of woman seen in Pierce County hospitals near newborns takes different turn

TACOMA, Wash. -- A woman in Tacoma who has been seen near the newborns section at Pierce County hospitals triggered an alert by Multicare Health Systems and had expecting mothers fearful.

But Tacoma Police Department officer Loretta Cool said Monday night that police know who the woman is and, that according to an incident report filed by Multicare Health Systems, she had a baby at one of the hospitals on Dec. 31.

But that infant was taken into protective custody from her by Child Protective Services at the hospital, Cool said, and the woman keeps returning to look for her child.

Cool could not say why the woman's child was taken into protective custody. But, she added, the woman is not a suspect in any crime.

Tacoma police say no crime report has been filed even though hospital officials sent out an internal alert warning employees to be on the lookout for her.

Officials with Tacoma General say it was a test of its security system and that things worked exactly how they were supposed to.

Even so, staff has been asked to be extra vigilant and follow every protocol.

They believe the woman may try to get near newborns again but as of right now she isn’t charged with breaking any laws.

Both of Trevor Pegues’ daughters were born in Tacoma, at St. Joseph Medical Center, which is one of the hospitals telling its employees to be on alert for a woman who has tried repeatedly to get close to newborns.

“If someone came close and had intention of taking my child or harming them in any way, that is my nightmare,” Pegues said.

Officials at Multicare Health Systems say they’ve stepped up security at their hospitals, including Tacoma General and Mary Bridge, making sure visitors check in and are escorted to the proper areas.

The increased security comes after an email was sent to employees asking everyone be on the lookout for an African American woman in her mid 30s-40s over concerns she may use stolen scrubs or ID badges to get access to areas with newborns.

New grandma Shannon Musser said Sunday night she could tell staff were being extra cautious.

“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.

While the woman hasn’t gotten close enough to touch any newborns, her attempt is enough to make parents worried.

“If they’re (the children) not around me they’re around my heart, absolutely,” said Pregues.