The story of BC Roy, according to newspaper accounts, begins in June 2011, when 18 babies died at the hospital over the course of two days. The news was first reported locally, but the outrage spread beyond Kolkata’s city limits. On national television, newscasters labeled BC Roy a “hospital of death.”
Hoping to blunt a politically poisonous scandal before it spun out of control, Mamata Banerjee, the state’s chief minister, or head of government, who doubles as minister of home, health and family welfare, established an inquiry into the infant deaths. Heading the inquiry was Dr. Tridib Banerjee, a private practice pediatrician (who is of no relation to Mamata Banerjee), and is known as the pediatrician to the state’s wealthy and elite.
Dr. Banerjee created the High Level Task Force, comprised of a group of health care professionals, to recommend things like the allocation of new equipment, the hiring of new doctors, and anything else that might prevent future incidents of infant mortality at the state’s many government hospitals. As a result, the intensive care unit at BC Roy was expanded, and carefully vetted hires were made.
But the worst was yet to come. In September, two years after adding modern equipment that Banerjee assured me was “as good anyone would find in the best American hospitals,” an astounding 41 babies died in the span of six days.