Catalysis Staff Share Reflections from 2021

Posted on by CATALYSIS

As 2021 comes to a close, it is a good time to pause and reflect on events from the year. Reflection is integral to the learning and personal development process. This important part of the PDSA cycle helps us take stock of what went well and what we can improve on in the future.

The Catalysis staff has taken time to share their reflections from working with customers and one another as we continue to transform healthcare.

This was another year of unprecedented upheaval and demands.  Our lives have been disrupted, our work has relocated and the content of our lives has been filtered through the restrictions of the pandemic.  The resilience of our teams and the healthcare community has been tested and we continue to win…but at a huge price, and…we are exhausted. Our future will be changed forever and we are writing the “first or second draft” of this opportunity every day.  We have learned to accept and respond to change in ways never imagined in our past and we have overcome many obstacles in the newly defined virtual world.  We continue to learn and to adjust, as we embrace opportunity -we will continue to improve and innovate. For our patients – failure is not an option.

-  Kim Barnas, CEO

As I reflect on this past year, three themes come to mind: I’m grateful, disappointed, but hopeful. 

  • I’m grateful for 
    • Co-workers who have supported each other and adapted to being remote 
    • Our Improvement Partners and sponsors who continued to support our non-profit mission 
    • The resiliency of all people who continue to provide services throughout this chaos and risk 
    • The shared learning and study opportunities of our improvement partners and sponsors that continue to help accelerate improving healthcare 
  • I’m disappointed 
    • In the politicization of science and scientific learning.  I am fearful that transparency and scientific debate is permanently harmed 
    • In public health’s latency to act and deliver consistent messages and guidance 
    • In the lack of timely, accurate COVID data and insight after two years 
  • I’m hopeful and looking forward to: 
    • The end of the Pandemic 
    • Going to see and meet in person.  I miss the face-to-face experience of sharing and connecting 
    • Return of all service industries to the pre-pandemic levels 

Wishing all safe and happy holidays! 

- Brian Veara, Program Director

As I reflected on this past year, I chose to focus on the process of reflection. As one of the behavioral traits important to building a culture of continuous improvement, reflection is a topic that we regularly return to in our leadership Forums, as this is indicative of a leader’s willingness to change. I found that my dedication to reflecting varied throughout the year, and I was curious what impact this had on me and my work. As I looked back, I found that when I was regularly reflecting (at least weekly), I felt more accomplished, and was more able to think more intentionally about my work. When I didn’t (my excuse usually being I ‘didn’t have time’ – which of course deserves deeper thought), I found that I wasn’t as strategic or collaborative as I could have or would have liked to have been. This reinforced for me how powerful reflection can be, and it gave me resolve to double down in 2022 on how I might improve in the coming year.

- Rachel Regan, Program Director


  • I am very proud of the fact that we as an organization continue to deliver value to our customers in this Covid world.  I can see it when I meet with them or deliver a workshop, they are still eager to learn, share and connect even if that means a Teams or Zoom meeting.
  • Catalysis is a wonderful place to work with a staff of awesome people who follow the principles and behaviors that we teach.  I thoroughly enjoy interacting with each and every one of the people employed at Catalysis
  • I admire the resiliency and am sympathetic to the struggle our customers continue to come up against on a daily basis.  How they keep moving forward with staffing shortages, burnout, and all the challenges faced with patient care during a pandemic is amazing. 
  • My family is really done with my morning joke that traffic was bad on my commute up the steps because of all their stuff that resides on the steps.  This had been going on since March of 2020.  I need a new joke.

- Chris Weisbrod, Network Director


I am not going to lie.  It has been a tough year to be a parent, an employee, a family member, a friend….  There are days when I feel completely helpless; when I feel like I need to do more but don’t know where to start, when I feel like the things I can do or offer are not enough.   Recently, in a conversation with my teenage daughter, I mentioned the concept of Circle of Influence and was reminded of learning about it through Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective people.   In sharing it with my daughter, I realized that it might be beneficial to revisit some of that learning myself.   When I did, it really helped me to frame a better perspective around what I can do and what I can contribute.  First, it helped me focus on those things that are in my Circle of Influence and set aside some of those are not.  Second, it helped me realize that by applying my strengths in areas that are within my Circle of Influence, I can actually grow that circle and it just might start helping to chip away at the much larger Circle of Concern.   It also shed some light on my new role as a Network Director at Catalysis.   By helping healthcare organizations across the country share, learn and connect it can truly help an industry that is in dire need of support, revitalization, and improvement.   Being a connector for all of you who are working, learning, and innovating in this space, can help to develop a “Community of Influence” that has the power to transform the whole industry.  Now I don’t feel so helpless after all and I look forward to expanding this “circle” in 2022! 

- Jean Lakin, Network Director

Reflecting on the past year, my focus tends to gravitate to the changes, challenges, and (hopefully) lessons learned in the past 12 months.  Like most of us recently, I am reminded of the resilience of humankind and inspired by the creativity which emerges from chaos.  I am grateful for the challenges which have become gifts.  The challenges of not being able to be together in person, whether with our family or in our professional work, helped us find new ways to connect, further reaching, more inclusive ways, and stretched my thinking about what it means to be present.  It is a gift to be part of a team and a learning community that embraces change.   Being part of this community brings the support to move through change when it might be difficult as one and the opportunity to be the support when others are in need.  We are fortunate to serve in this community, doing this work.  I look forward to the challenges which will become gifts in 2022.

- Karen Flom, Education Director


Meriam Webster defines a roller coaster as behavior, events or experiences characterized by sudden and extreme changes.  I think we can all agree that 2021 was definitely a rollercoaster.  From the elation of a vaccine, to the work of getting people vaccinated to the frustration of new variants, our worlds are continuing to ‘roll.’ We learned about diversity and inclusion and the need to think differently if we want to get different results. In the end, I would say perseverance could be the word of the year! 

I saw perseverance in the work of the Catalysis team.  We’ve adjusted to include virtual options to be able to serve our customers in coaching, workshops, Forums and even our Summit.  I’ve seen it in the work shared by members of the Network as they continue to learn new ways of working to better serve patients and support their team members.  And I’ve seen it in family members as we work to find safe ways to connect with each other and I’ve seen it in the work of my nursing colleagues with a focus on beginning to address diversity imbalances in many aspects of our society.

At some point, we will begin to settle into a cadence we call ‘normal,’ but I’m certain that it will not look like what we called normal prior to COVID-19!  One thing I believe we will all take away is that we can adjust and survive… and will most likely be better for what we learned along the way.  With focus and an open, curious mind, we can begin to solve problems together.

I hope for 2022 that we find that ‘new normal’ and take the time to incorporate our learning into a new way to doing things. 

- Pam Helander, Program Director

Looking back on 2021 with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight has reinforced that we, as humans, can only try to predict what is to come.  I recall in late Spring of 2020, many of us felt that the pandemic would be passed by the year’s end.  In early 2021, we held the optimism of vaccines to be distributed.  The key lesson for me in healthcare is appreciating the sacrifice and dedication of our healthcare providers and those that work with them.  These heroes have demonstrated an incredible capacity for caring.  As we experience the challenges in our personal and professional lives caused by this virus, it became abundantly clear that the healthcare providers have those personal and familial demands and pain, in addition to the stress work of treating the rest of us. My most intense reflection for 2021 centers around gratitude for those who take care of us.  And, sadly, I am not sure we can ever show enough thanks.  But we can all try our best.  Thank you, to the heroes. May we find a way to truly thank you.

- Peter Mariahazy, Chief Administrative Officer

We encourage all of you to reflect on what you learned this year and how you can use those learnings to continue to improve healthcare for patients, staff, and communities.

Please share your reflections in the comments section below.


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