BROOKLYN - Victory Memorial Hospital will close its labor and delivery unit for good Friday night, leaving many pregnant women searching for somewhere else to deliver their babies.

State leaders decided to close Victory Memorial a year ago. The labor and delivery unit was scheduled to be the first to go, but it was supposed to remain open for at least two more weeks. Lawyer Nisha Agarwal says the decision to close the labor unit was made Monday, which creates problems because many residents may not have heard the news.

Employees at Victory Memorial say they want surrounding communities to know that many of the hospital?s services, including the emergency room, are open and available for use. However, they say they are in the dark about just how long everything will remain open.

?As of last week, we were granted a reprieve,? Victory Memorial employee Robert Helman says. ?The ER department can stay open for an indefinite amount of time. But I?m not exactly sure what that means.?

Critics say the hospital shouldn?t have been put into this position in the first place. They say out-of-touch lawmakers are failing a community that still needs the hospital.

Victory Memorial representatives defend their decision to close the labor and delivery unit early, saying they don?t have enough staff to operate safely. Women planning to deliver at the hospital are being instructed to have their babies at Brooklyn Hospital Center instead.

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