Tacoma-based MultiCare Health System, Pierce County's largest private employer, announced that it would eliminate by early autumn up to 350 positions from its work force of 9,400. In the first round of selecting which positions will be lost – and before mandatory layoffs – MultiCare employees will be offered the opportunity to retire or leave voluntarily. The company will offer those departing a severance package that includes cash and paid medical insurance through the end of the year. "It's a difficult time for our organization," said Diane Cecchettini, MultiCare president/CEO. "We've agonized about this decision but feel that it is the right decision."