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.

read more...

I was on vacation and started feeling ill. I returned home and talked to my doctors about what could be going on. They run 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 run more and more test 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, spend 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,

Io

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…

Mary Pope, RN, BCPA Care Advocate

Mary is a Registered Nurse (RN) and Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA). She is passionate about helping people navigate the complex healthcare system. Mary believes that clear communication between clients, care team members, and health systems is essential to positive outcomes. She aims to support clients every step of the way, and feels strongly that no one should walk the path of life-altering illness alone.

As a GreyZone Care Advocate, Mary enjoys helping clients find solutions to challenging healthcare problems. She has been a health advocacy pioneer in Washington State for over a decade, and is an active member of the Washington State Health Advocacy Association (WASHAA). Mary was also one of the first recipients of the national board certification in patient advocacy (BCPA).

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…

Ashley Carlson, BA Administrative Assistant

Ashley serves as GreyZone’s Administrative Assistant, managing the daily needs of the office and supporting the work of her fellow team members through a variety of tasks. She finds satisfaction in knowing that the work she provides helps support patients during their quest for better health.

Ashley coordinates with GreyZone’s physician network and supports the organization’s daily technological and security needs. She also works behind the scenes on system management infrastructure building GreyZone’s large database of information on specific medical conditions, diagnostic criteria, advocacy resources, educational materials for patients and specialist recommendations.

read more…

Organizations We’ve Worked With Previously

Organizations We Support

Washington State Health Advocacy Association
washaa.org

Washington Patient Safety Coalition
wapatientsafety.org

Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine
improvediagnosis.org

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare
theschwartzcenter.org