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UArizona Health Sciences medical students give free medical care to underserved in dire times

University of Arizona medical students give free medical care to underserved in dire times
Posted at 1:02 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 12:22:46-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — UArizona Health Sciences has provided medical care to hundreds of families in need during the pandemic. It’s through free student-run clinics with a commitment to underserved people, also known as CUP clinics.

Medical student Issa Jimenez Espinoza knows first-hand how intimidating hospitals can be for those without medical insurance.

“I was born and raised in Mexico, but when we immigrated to Phoenix we didn’t know the concept of health insurance or free clinics," Issa Jimenez Espinoza, Patient Coordinator, Shubitz Clinic. "So we would rather just wait and not be seen even if we were sick or ill in any way.”

It was this experience that inspired her to help others in similar situations. She’s now a patient coordinator at Shubitz, a free primary care clinic for uninsured families in Tucson.

“Most of these individuals don’t know how to navigate the health care system and we’re just there as a resource for them to be seen by a provider,” Jimenez Espinoza said.

It’s the longest-standing of seven student-run free clinics that the university has for underserved communities.

“Totally completely free clinic. We don’t worry about billing, about copays, about limiting our services because we just take everybody and provide as much services as we can,” said Patricia Lebensohn, Medical Director, Shubitz Clinic.

These clinics offer life-changing services, while also giving medical students clinical experience.

“I really want to become a physician who isn’t just about learning the science and treating a patient behind the scenes, but forming a lasting patient and physician relationship,” said Joseph Gunderson, Lead Clinic Coordinator, Shubitz Clinic.

Many of these uninsured patients haven't seen a physician in 10 years. The need especially increased in the pandemic.

“With the pandemic, there has been more need because a lot of people lost their health insurance, a lot of people stayed home and didn’t go to get health care so we’ve seen a lot of new patients,” Lebensohn said.

CUP Clinics Schedule:

  • Mental Health Clinic: Every Monday, 6:00-9:00 PM
  • Shubitz Family Clinic: Every Tuesday, 6:00-9:00 PM
  • Women's Clinic: 3 Wednesdays a month, 6:00-9:00 PM
  • Integrative Medicine: First Thursday of every month, 6:00- 9:00 PM
  • LGBTQ+ Clinic: Second Thursday of every month, 5:30-9:30 PM