Transplant Concierge: Medical Insurance Nightmare to Startup


Battles with Medical Insurance Led to Law School and Concierge Startup Attorney LeeAnn Modestino launched Transplant Concierge in 2014 after both she and her mother had to have medical treatment away from home. In addition to the stress of dealing with their illnesses, they were also forced to scramble to find suitable places to stay.

Modestino was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma 16 years ago, when she was in her 20s. She lived outside of Manhattan with a friend at the time, but needed emergency chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City because her lymph nodes were so swollen, they were resting on her heart and lungs. Luckily, a family acquaintance offered her an apartment near the hospital.

“It was a complete godsend,” said Modestino. “That acquaintance’s mother had recently passed away from cancer, so she let me use her mother’s apartment.”

Fortunately, Modestino’s treatment was successful. However, her insurance company denied coverage at first. She fought that battle for a year and won. “That’s when I decided to go to law school,” she said. “I wanted to help people, especially with insurance.”

She earned her J.D. at Suffolk University Law School in Boston with a concentration in health and biomedical law.

For several years, she worked in small law firms in New York and Boston. In 2013 however, Modestino left the firm she was practicing in after her mother, Leone Modestino, was diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder. Her mother and father had to uproot themselves from Miami for a stem cell transplant at Sloan Kettering in New York City. Modestino’s father needed a place to stay near the hospital while his wife was receiving treatment.

Modestino and her sister scoured the city, checking with real estate brokers, social workers, corporate housing, hotels and Craigslist and finally found a suitable apartment. Her mother’s treatment was successful and the experience made Modestino clarify her mission to address the pressing need for accommodations for people needing medical care away from home.

Modestino signed on with Hire an Esquire and is maintaining her license to practice in New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The flexibility has allowed her to prioritize the launch of Transplant Concierge, which has been in the business development stage until recently. Now, she’s ready to start assisting clients in New York and Boston. Initially, she’ll work on what’s comparable to a broker’s fee for finding housing, but she plans to offer other services to help bring comfort   into the healing process for her clients.

“I’ll ask family and friends to offer photos or other personal items, like I did for my mom, so the place is more like home. I can bring in groceries and other things they need while they’re having treatment. And when people come to a strange city, they need assistance with things like transportation,” she said. She will also assist with insurance reimbursement.

While Modestino pushes ahead with Transplant Concierge, she’s keeping up her energy and enthusiasm with her long-term interests in running, hiking and photography. Although the Adirondacks are her favorite territory, she’s making the most of winter by taking her interests into the sunshine and visiting her parents in Naples, Florida. That gives her a chance to take walks with her mom, go jogging on the beach, and visit the farmer’s market to pick up fresh ingredients for dinner.

1. What’s the best part of being a lawyer?

The transferable skills having a J.D. offers.

2. What’s the best part of being an entrepreneur or having a business or passion outside your legal work?

Every day is a different adventure.

3. How does your legal background help with what you love to do?

The training you get in law school helps you think analytically.

4. If you could change one thing about the legal industry, what would it be?

I’d abolish billable hours.

5. What’s the secret to juggling the practice of law and living a full life outside of the law?

It didn't work for me and that’s why I’m not working at a law firm.

6. What’s your advice to lawyers thinking of changing careers, starting their own business or just taking some time off?

Talk to people who have done it to get advice on what worked and what didn't work so well.

7. Do you have one memorable horror story from your legal work, not mentioning any names?

I worked in the legal department for a company that decided to get rid of the legal department and use outside counsel and I had to draft my own severance agreement.

8. What’s your next big adventure?

I think I’m living it right now with trying to build Transplant Concierge.

 9. Where do you want to be five years from now?

I would like to have built Transplant Concierge to a national level where we’re helping thousands of people.

 10. If you could pass any law you wanted, what would it be?

Mandatory nutrition labeling on GMO foods. I like to know what’s in my food.

Attorney LeeAnn Modestino is the founder of Transplant Concierge, which is based in Silver Bay, New York, about an hour from Albany.  For information on Transplant Concierge go to LeeAnn is also a Hire an Esquire flexible attorney with a real estate broker license.


Posted by Rhonda Miller | Last edited on March 1, 2015 | Comments