Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and host of other thoughtful, can-do elves in Portland.

One is Gregg Coodley, a Southwest Portland physician, who, along with the employee owners of the Fanno Creek Clinic, will treat uninsured children free of charge through February.

Coodley is the activist who organized a 30,000-signature petition drive calling on the city of Portland to help fund health care coverage for uninsured students attending Portland public schools. Along the way, the 2009 Oregon Legislature expanded health care coverage to uninsured children in low- and moderate-income families.

Coodley and his cohorts are not willing to wait for the state plan to provide better health care to the estimated 118,000 young Oregonians without coverage. So the clinic is treating uninsured children at no charge.

Fanno Creek's offer of free pediatric care is a remarkable thing. While in keeping with the holiday spirit of giving and sharing, it acknowledges two inescapable health care facts: sickness doesn't take a holiday and preventative care is far better for a patient and less costly for society than emergency treatment.

It's heart-warming that folks like those at the Fanno Creek Clinic - and others in our community - do their part to assist others in need.

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