PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- Healthcare can be expensive even if you have insurance.

If you don't, sometimes that means you don't see a doctor.

But the Mayo Clinic and St. Vincent De Paul wanted to change that.

[VIDEO: Free clinic for uninsured patients]

Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine students are getting a jump start in their hands-on training by working with some of the community's most vulnerable members.

Patients like Edwin Ketring.

"I had no one here to take care of me. I live by myself and I had no insurance," he said.

Dr. Maurice Lee is the medical director and says the clinic is unique because they have the freedom to provide more to these patients than most doctor's offices.

"All we do is uninsured medicine here so we have all the resource they need as opposed to this is what you need and they can't get it. In our case we just go and grab it for them."

Lee oversees patient care and the medical students who provide it.

These are mostly second-year students who, at most other medical schools, wouldn't have this type of hands-on experience.

Those duties range from things like drawing blood and performing pap smears to minor procedures like taking off a toe nail.

For these young doctors, it can be little nerve wracking, especially on day one.

"I was pretty nervous. I didn't know what to expect or what I was going to be doing," said student Michael Sarvi.

His patient was a young woman from Central America who needed her first pap smear which also happened to be Sarvi's first pap smear.

A good reminder of the learning that happens here.

A big part of their care is teaching patients everything from basic principles about diet and exercise to more serious strategies like managing chronic illness.

"They taught me how to do the insulin shots, they taught me how to take care of myself. I'm almost completely off the meds now," said Ketring.

The patients they see are easily the most undeserved demographic, desperate for the help St. Vincent De Paul and the Mayo Clinic are providing.

"It's more of a relief than anything else," said Lee.

"When they realize they're in a clinic that actually takes care of them rather than a clinic that just gives them a bandaid or some aspirin and tell them to go see your doctor."

The clinic is located at the St. Vincent De Paul center: 420 W. Watkins Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85003

Heidi Goitia is the traffic reporter and fill-in anchor for CBS 5 This Morning weekdays from 4:30-7am.

Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



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