Evelyn Powell is 68 years old and extraordinarily sick.
“I have emphysema. I’ve got arrhythmic heart failure, got asthma,” says Powell, who runs a rooming house in Portland, Oregon. “I was in and out of the hospital all the time, it would be a month, a whole month, I’d be in the hospital three or four times.”
She’s the kind of patient who gets labeled a “frequent flier” by healthcare providers. It’s a pejorative label, and from a distance it’s certainly easy to judge Powell: she struggled to keep track of her medication. She ate lousy food. She kept smoking.