The GreyZone Story

Feeling sick without having answers is a horrible place to be. People don’t know how bad it is until it happens to them.

I was one of these people, a very active biotechnology professional and athlete, happy, in love with life and with my job. I was running a multi-disciplinary, technology in-licensing program at a private company that reviewed hundreds of cutting-edge diagnostic technologies from top universities around the world for commercialization. Life was exciting as we were communicating daily with top research teams across the planet working on emerging diagnostic tests for serious conditions. What is more exciting than that?

Then one day things started to change.


I was on vacation and started feeling ill. I returned home and talked to my doctors about what could be going on. They ran several tests but no one could tell me with any certainty what was the cause of my symptoms.

In the next few months, I became slowly housebound and then mostly bedbound. I stopped working and having any kind of life. Planning for anything was impossible as we did not know how I would do on a specific day. My calendar was organized around medical appointments and even those were hard to attend sometimes because I was too sick to go.

My bed was the only safe place for months, which turned into years. During that time, we ran more and more tests but had few answers.

At some point, I decided to change my entire medical team and read feverishly any scientific and medical literature available to try to help my doctors help me. Having been in and around research labs for more than a decade allowed me to understand a lot, to be able to piece things together and discuss with my doctors about possible scenarios and answers.

After almost two years of searching, we finally figured out some pieces of the puzzle, enough to start treatment. In the next 3 years, I had two major surgeries, spent a few days in the ICU, was diagnosed with several rare and one life-threatening condition, and slowly began the long road to healing and recovery.

It took years to feel healthy and able to join the living again. It took an amazing effort from my team of providers who refused to give up and kept searching, discussing, experimenting, and supporting me through the entire process. It also took a tremendous amount of stamina, perseverance, financial, emotional, and practical support for me and my family to be able to get through this and out the other end.

This is why I became a patient advocate for people with complex medical problems. Because I have been there, have witnessed the fear, the frustration, the guilt and the letdown and found the way to get back out to a healthier, more fulfilling life. I know what it takes from the patient perspective, the medical team, and the process to have a successful result.

Dr. Leininger and I met while helping an international greyzone patient get diagnosed after a decade of deteriorating health and no answers. We never looked back. We formed GreyZone to help address this need.

No matter what the medical problem you are facing is, we can work together to start finding answers and improving your quality of life. We will treat you with respect, kindness, and compassion. You can get out of your maze and we are here to help you do that!

With gratitude,


Or give us a call at 206.900.0904

The GreyZone Team

Io Dolka, MS Founder, Managing Director & Chief Care Advocate

Io is GreyZone’s founder and lead Care Advocate. She loves helping people address their medical challenges and improve the quality of care they receive.

Io formed GreyZone after seeing first-hand how complicated it was for people with complex medical conditions to obtain an accurate diagnosis of their symptoms. Her experience was a testing, decade-long journey from health to bed-ridden sickness and back. This journey taught her not to take anything for granted and to keep pushing for answers until a clear understanding exists of what is wrong and an effective treatment plan is put in place.

read more…

Chris Leininger, MD, MBA Co-Founder, Physician Consultant

Chris Leininger, MD is GreyZone’s co-Founder and Physician Consultant. A board-certified Family Medicine Physician, he brings more than four decades of medical expertise and a deep commitment to and appreciation of medical challenges to our team.

Dr. Leininger enjoys learning patients’ stories, helping with the assessment of complex cases, and solving medical mysteries. He is passionate about healthcare improvement and considers medical challenges to be a personal calling. He enjoys working on these cases and serving clients who need his help. At GreyZone, Dr. Leininger is directly involved in the assessment of each new client and helps direct advocacy services and resources alongside our advocates. He is also available for regular check-ins and advocacy level consultations of long-term GreyZone clients. Dr. Leininger does not offer medical services through GreyZone.

read more…

Sarah Jane Yang, MS, RN Care Advocate & Financial Advocacy Lead

Sarah Jane is a Care Advocate and Master’s level registered nurse with experience managing complex medical cases and navigating in-hospital services. In addition, she runs our Patient Financial Advocacy program.

The passion to educate and empower patients drives Sarah Jane’s advocacy above all else. She envisions a world where no patient is too intimidated or ill-informed to get their medical needs met. Sarah Jane is fascinated by the whole person, not just their physical or psychological illness. She understands how vulnerable the process of getting the care you need can be and she strives to provide clients with the maximum amount of independence and life quality as possible.

read more…

Eva Fletcher, MS, PT Care Advocate

Eva is a health care advocate and physical therapist. She is dedicated to helping others navigate the complicated pathway of our medical system.

Eva has worked in the hospital system for over 25 years. While neurology and neuro-rehab were her focus, her experiences encompassed the entire acute care and ICU world of medicine. Though she provided physical therapy to stroke survivors, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, cardiac and acute care patients, she always was sure to address the whole person. She saw the gaps that were present within medical care and did what she felt was necessary to bridge those gaps. This often, included advocating for patients and helping them to advocate for themselves, to get the best care possible.

read more…

Jenni Nolan, BCPA Financial Patient Advocate

Jenni is a Board Certified Patient Advocate specializing in patient financial advocacy and is a member of GreyZone’s Patient Financial Advocacy team.

Jenni is passionate about assisting patients in all matters regarding the financial aspects of their healthcare. Recognizing that the financial stress of navigating our healthcare system can negatively impact on a patient’s health as the illness for which they’re being treated, Jenni partners alongside patients to relieve some of that burden.

read more…

Dana Laursen

Dana Laursen, BA Associate Care Advocate

Dana is an Associate Care Advocate and leads the Advanced Care Planning (ACP) Program at GreyZone.

As an Associate Advocate, Dana is an integral part of the team. She works alongside clients and GreyZone advocates to obtain and organize information, help with care coordination and offer overall hope and support to GreyZone clients in need.

read more…

Julia Parker, MS, MLIS Medical Research Librarian

Julia Parker is the Medical Research Librarian for GreyZone. She loves discovering and connecting people with critical information, especially when it is pertinent to a patient’s current medical challenges. Julia enjoys supporting patients through the process of informed decision-making.

Julia is fascinated with the process of searching and retrieving medical literature, and she enjoys supporting initiatives that improve public health. She is encouraged by improving access to medical literature and knowledge, and is part of an ongoing effort by medical librarians and legislators to connect patients with medical research and clinical trial results.

read more…

Organizations We’ve Worked With Previously

Organizations We Support

Washington State Health Advocacy Association

Washington Patient Safety Coalition

Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare