Thousands of people will visit the Seattle King County free health clinic at KeyArena over the next three days for cancer screenings, vision tests, dental work, and other services. Organizers say the annual event is attracting more people than ever, and they're trying to highlight those stories with a pencil and a sketch pad.
“I think people sometimes have assumptions about who comes to get free care at a clinic and I think they’re surprised sometimes when they find out there’s a wide range of people that need healthcare,” said Meredith Li-Vollmer, a risk communications specialist with Public Health Seattle and King County.
She’s also a cartoonist, who is sketching patients’ stories. She and a team of volunteers compile the comics into a book, which helps explain the shortcomings of the U.S. healthcare system.
Clinic organizers, medical groups, and non-profits use the comics to help raise money and awareness.
“You just hear these same things over and over from such an amazing variety of people. Clearly, there's something not working,” said Megan Kelso, a Seattle cartoonist who worked the event for a second year.
She interviewed a man named Tony who recently retired, but is too young for Medicare. Kelso penciled a rough sketch of Tony on her notepad as he spoke.
“He has an important story because a lot of people are in that situation,” Kelso said.