Comics from the Seattle/King County Clinic, part 3: The Impact

Five years have passed since the first Seattle/King County Clinic, a giant pop-up event that has offered free medical, dental and vision care each fall for four days at KeyArena. Public Health – Seattle & King County is proud to have been part of this enormous community effort, along with over 100 other organizations.

In 2019, with the construction of a new arena at Seattle Center, the Clinic is on hiatus. We’re taking this pause to reflect on what the impact of this free clinic has been, as told through two comic strips, the third in a series of comic journalism from the 2018 Clinic. The first tells a very personal story about the difference the Seattle/King County Clinic made in the life of one individual, and that person’s legacy on the entire event. The second story steps back for the big picture, illustrating key achievements and more importantly, the work still left to be done.

Lasky FOR JANET 1 webLasky FOR JANET 2 webLasky FOR JANET 3 webLasky FOR JANET 4 web

Artwork by David Lasky, written by Meredith Li-Vollmer

Epilogue page 1Epilogue page 2Epilogue page 3Epilogue page 4Epilogue page 5


Thanks to the Seattle Center, the Seattle Center Foundation, and Public Health—Seattle & King County for support of this comics journalism project. Special thanks to the artists Amy Camber, Ellen Forney, Kelly Froh, Tatiana Gill, Roberta Gregory, David Lasky, Meredith Li-Vollmer, and Rachel Scheer who volunteered their time and to all the patients and volunteers who shared their stories with us.

More on the Seattle/King County Clinic at

Originally posted on February 7, 2019.



Posted by

I am a risk communications specialist at Public Health - Seattle & King County.

7 thoughts on “Comics from the Seattle/King County Clinic, part 3: The Impact

  1. Amazing story and comic — can’t agree more with the long term goal! Thanks again for your hard work on this blog – I’m in awe of your PH communication skills! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Crystal! The Epilogue was challenging to write and draw–how do you sum it all up in 20 panels? Appreciate the kind words.

  2. I was one of the people at that first clinic. One of the teeth that the dentist helped me to save was just finally pulled last month. I had years more use of that tooth because of that clinic. They also gave me a pair of shoes that I still wear to this day. Since I currently need extensive (expensive) dental work that is not covered by Medicaid I hope that these clinics never go away for good. Too many people need this every day!!!

  3. With health insurance still not being affordable for every individual and the cost of medical treatment often times being far too expensive for most, clinics like these are extremely important. I am a public health student at the University of Washington and have the privilege of working alongside a diverse student body. I have far too many friends who work full time and receive benefits but still cannot afford to visit the dentist due to copays, deductibles or the bill they will inevitably get post-treatment. Others do not have insurance and are still drowning in bills from that one night they had to visit the ER, so preventive care is out of the question financially. Without clinics like the incredible Seattle/King county one, even more individuals would go years without preventative health care and commonly needed procedures.

    As a strong believer in the power of preventative health care, I stand behind clinics that work to provide routine check-ups, like mammograms, for anyone who may need it. A free clinic allows individuals to take care of their health without the extreme burden of navigating a health insurance program or somehow deciding between their health and rent. This clinic has done so many positive things for the King county community and I look forward to finding ways to support this clinic in re-opening and providing care.

  4. This was quite a touching illustration of what our healthcare system is doing to people. My question is why was it even questioned to put the Seattle/King County clinic on pause? Putting this clinic on pause would have been an appropriate decision if no one needed help and access to free medical care. Didn’t the existence of this clinic make it apparent that our health care system is doomed? It’s unfortunate that Janet lost her life. This is a story that many of us can relate to. This should be a wake up call for all healthcare stakeholders especially those who make the decision and definitely those who decided to shut the Seattle / King County Clinic down. This is a reality that many Americans live (legal or illegal) face but we just accept it. I think that anyone in this country should have access to free health care of affordable health care. It’s not fair that there are people sitting on millions of dollars looking at the rest of us as we slowly die.

    Our current administration is creating more harm than before to low income people. Is this an ideal healthcare system when we know this isn’t good enough for the majority of the people and we still continue to live by it?
    Why can’t we copy some systems that have shown success in the people’s health. For example: Canada or England etc… We need a policy that addresses inequity in this country – that includes everyone and give everyone equal access. If Melinda gates can afford a mammogram every 6 months, (and all the other check ups we need every 6 months) shouldn’t I be given the same opportunity? I pay taxes, and obey the rules. So why is it like this? We must change our policy.

    I feel like Key Arena should find a way to resume this as promised before that it will happen every year. It is offensive to stop this service just because they are reconstructing. What they are doing – rebuilding Key Arena will never be comparable to someone’s life. (1) They are spending millions of dollars building a space to play sports in. That’s what the outside environment is for. There are many existing stadiums and courts they can play at if Seattle Storm is really in need of extra space. (2) Key Arena was fine and already huge, why do they have to reconstruct it and chip away only change people can seek healthcare? Seattle King County Clinic is way more important.

    1. From what I have heard, the new owners of KeyArena are very supportive of continuing the Seattle/King County Clinic. But planning a clinic of this scale is a huge, huge undertaking, so relocating it while construction is happening requires a lot of time to plan and literally hundreds of other logistical matters need to be put in place, much of it on volunteer time. It’s so much more than just having a venue. Fundraising must be done so all the equipment can be rented, there’s coordination with all the medical organizations and healthcare systems to make sure healthcare providers are available on the same dates, making sure there is sufficient electrical and IT infrastructure, tables and chairs, interpretation machines, donated food for the volunteers and patients, skilled volunteer staff and everything that makes this clinic run. There have been over 100 organizations involved and everyone has to be ready to commit to a new plan. The organizers are hopeful that a temporary location can be found for 2020 and that all the details can be worked out. We know how important this event is to meet those immediate health needs!

      And as you noted, we need a better system that includes everyone and provides access for all, period.

  5. This was such an amazing story/comic! I was very touched by the story of Janet and I cannot even imagine what would many individuals would do without this program/event. Also, I totally agree with a longer term goal/permanent solution in place for the clinic since health insurance is still not affordable and the cost of medical treatment (e.g. visits to primary care physicians and even the dentists due to copays) are still too expensive for many folks, which is why I believe clinics like these are extremely important.

    As pre-medical student at the University of Washington, I am a strong proponent for preventative care and access to basic healthcare for all (e.g. routine check ups, screening, vaccinations, etc…). Because of this, I was wondering if you thought of what would be the best possible solution in continuing and integrating this free clinic program into our daily lives (e.g. what should the city implement to make this event more accessible for all and not just available in one day)? In addition, I was wondering with the current government stance on affordable healthcare, do you think this event would be impacted? Because I can see how much of an impact this free medical service event has on the individuals who cannot afford medical services and it got me thinking what we can do to prolong this event until we find a more permanent solution.

    Please let me know what do you think Meredith!

Leave a Reply