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Health Equity Hero Bridget Saffold

Bridget Saffold, MSN, MPH, RN

Founder, Focus on Diabetes


Donation Recipient: Focus on Diabetes

Bridget Reed, MSN, MPH, RN, started Focus on Diabetes in 2015 to fill a gap in diabetes management and patient care in Eastern Iowa. Leveraging education and awareness, Focus on Diabetes’ hyper-local and personal approach helps to address common barriers experienced by patients in hospitals and clinics.

Focus on Diabetes’ annual community engagement event, Cedar Valley Focus on Diabetes, brings community members together with local healthcare systems. Physicians and health care organizations share targeted education and new treatment options; introduce new diabetes management tools; and provide free screenings. Focus on Diabetes connects people who receive a concerning result with local clinicians.

Seeing clinicians outside of the clinical setting creates a level of trust; attendees gain comfort with health care providers because they know what to expect. Focus on Diabetes services are free, so many of the same people return each year, saving them money on health care.

Focus on Diabetes also holds quarterly Let’s Talk About Health events that allow individuals to have closer discussions with diabetes management experts, empowering attendees to become self-advocates.

I work in the same community that I serve, and outside of work I was getting asked questions by people who I know about going to the doctor. There was obviously something missing – they had so many questions after their appointments. I started Focus on Diabetes to bring care and education to people outside of the stress of a clinical setting and into a community setting where they are relaxed enough to really receive what’s being said.


Seeing improvements spurred by simple conversations drives Bridget. People return and thank her for providing the information that enabled them to do something new for their health. Bridget understands what it means to be able to accept help. As a single mom with four children under age 10 and no home, she had to advocate for herself during her journey in nursing education. Bridget not only earned her nursing degree during this difficult period, but also has since earned an MPH. She now serves as a trustee at the college where she started nursing school.

Focus on Diabetes Stats

  • Annual event endorsed by the State of Iowa's Healthiest State Initiative
  • Mostly funded by Bridget and volunteers’ support
  • Has served nearly 2,500 people since it opened 8 years ago  
  • Project Health – a prostate cancer study led by Focus on Diabetes, started in 2022
  • The organization met the standard academic study metric of surveying 10% of the demographic
  • Findings presented at the Public Health Conference of Iowa, Iowa Cancer Consortium’s annual spring conference, and the University of Iowa HCCC Scientific Retreat
  • Accelerated Nursing Program – a partnership between Hawkeye College and Upper Iowa University
    • 2 plus 1 program that enables students to earn a 4-year nursing degree in 3 years
    • Several volunteers at Focus on Diabetes events are college students in this program
  • Focus on Diabetes is mentoring students pursuing health care professions, teaching compassionate nursing and best practices in leadership and problem solving
  • COVID-19 assist program
    • Created after Bridget found out her patients were struggling to find alcohol pads for use before taking insulin
    • Ordered thousands of wipes online
    • Created 60-day supply packages with free glucose monitors, test strips, alcohol pads, face mask, and other items so diabetic patients can stay safe at home
    • So many diabetics reached out for help, Bridget gave out 200 care packages in Iowa and as far away as Pennsylvania, New York and other states

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