BERKELEY -- Patient rooms at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center's Alta Bates Campus were without heat or hot water Saturday after the hospital began steam work repairs at 10 a.m., an official said.

The work did not affect the emergency department, laboratories, surgery or the labor and delivery department, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

A representative for the California Nurses Association, however, disputed that, saying newborn babies had to wait to receive baths after birth, and nurses had no way to heat milk.

The work was expected to be completed by no later than 10 p.m., according to hospital spokeswoman Stacey Wells. Patients had to forgo hot showers and used alcohol-based hand sanitizer or cold water and friction in lieu of hot water to wash their hands. The hospital was making sure patients received extra blankets if they got too cold, Wells said.

Mike Hill, a registered nurse and a CNA representative at the company's Summit Campus in Oakland, said the work at Alta Bates was emblematic of larger problems at Sutter Health facilities, from shortages in supplies and staff to more serious problems with the buildings.

A plumbing problem earlier this month forced a four-hour shut-off of water service at the Merritt Pavilion in Oakland, he said. Sewage had leaked from pipes in the ceiling onto technicians working below, Hill said.

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