Bridget Toomey: Leading change for ovarian cancer and women’s wellness

In 2014, Bridget Toomey, MS, CPC, received news no family member wants to hear—her mother had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

As a longtime employee of UI Health Care, Toomey had worked with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology on several occasions before stepping into her current role as the department’s assistant administrator. When her mother began treatment at UI Health Care, that relationship evolved, setting Toomey on a career path she did not expect.

Although her mother ultimately passed from her illness, Toomey’s respect for the team who provided her mother with excellent care continued. “I distinctly remember going to my now boss in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and saying, ‘I’m going to work with you one day. If there is a job in your department, keep me in mind. This is what I want to do,” Toomey says.

Now an assistant administrator in the department, Toomey tackles projects large and small to streamline clinic operations and improve quality of care. Her accomplishments include improving process flow in the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Team, implementing new communication practices to ensure efficiency department-wide, and creating a comprehensive sonographer team, which impacts the care for patients having ultrasounds at multiple locations.

Advocate for change

Toomey’s experience with her mother’s ovarian cancer not only inspired a career change but also pushed her toward a life of advocacy.

“After losing my mom, I was, for lack of a better word, ticked off that as a woman with ovaries, I didn’t know more about ovarian cancer and that I didn’t realize that there’s not a screening test or exam for it,” she says.

Shortly after her mother passed, the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance flew Toomey to Washington D.C. to speak to Iowa’s elected representatives and advocate on behalf of ovarian cancer patients.

“I quickly realized that when you are having these conversations with elected officials, they don’t need you to read them the statistics or tell them all the science; they want to hear the stories. That just really spoke to me,” she says.

Toomey later returned to our nation’s capital as one of six Gen2End ambassadors nationwide for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Today, her advocacy for ovarian cancer awareness continues. More recently, Toomey successfully pushed for state-level changes such as the official recognition of September as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

“We’re a small but mighty group because a lot of people with ovarian cancer don’t survive and so those of us that are here or have lost family members have to be the voice for those who can’t,” Toomey says.

Bridget and her Iowa team after being named the State Team of the Year at the 2022 American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network National Leadership Summit and Lobby Day in September. The team is pictured with coach Fran McCaffery and Margaret McCaffery at the U.S. Capital.

Bridget with Iowa Rep. Miller-Meeks in September 2022 holding a proclamation recognizing Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (signed by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors). Governor Kim Reynolds signed a similar proclamation.

Colleagues nominated Toomey for the Corridor Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Award, an honorary award for young professionals making an impact in their business and community early in their careers. As a recipient of this award, Toomey will be recognized by CBJ on Oct. 20.