While you are sleeping in on Sunday morning, Dean Haspela, nurse manager on the orthopedics unit on Emerson 5 at South Shore Hospital, will be working out...for a long, long time.
Dean will be in Kona, Hawaii this weekend for the Ironman World Championships, where he will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and finish off his day with a simple 26.2 mile “jog”.
“I think most of my family and friends think I’m crazy,” Dean said.
Dean got into the sport several years ago on the advice and nudging of his brother and worked his way up from smaller events to a full Ironman. Earlier this year, at the North American Championships in Texas, Dean finished fifth overall in his age group, giving him the necessary qualification time to make it to Hawaii this weekend for the biggest event in the sport.
Dean manages a nursing unit where patients are overcoming injuries and recovering from surgery with goals of getting back to doing the things they love. That’s a driving force for why he trains and why he loves to do the work he does at the hospital.
“I like to believe some of what I’m doing also role models to the team here that taking care of patients requires that we take care of ourselves first,” said Dean. “If you don’t take care of yourself at the end of the day you are not left with anything to give to your patients when you are here.”
Dean also has a deeper understanding for what a patient is going through, because he’s been one himself. In August of 2015, Dean was involved in a hit-and-run crash in Maine when he was on a bike ride. He suffered a severe concussion, and sustained a chest injury with several lower body injuries, taking him away from competing that fall.
After extensive rehabilitation, Dean slowly got back on his bike and worked himself back into shape. Finishing an Ironman after the accident was a major accomplishment. Qualifying for Kona was the icing on the cake. Going through the injuries he did and coming out on the other side has helped him relate to his patients on a different level.
“Sometimes I hear people say, ‘I know how you feel.’ and it never quite seems true,” Dean said. “We all bring our own unique set of circumstances to any injury or any life experience, but at least to be able to talk about the same challenges and relate a little bit more has helped a lot with our patients and with the staff here too.”
Dean is hoping for some cool weather in Hawaii, but he's almost certain that won't happen. While we are going about our business on Sunday, Dean will be swimming, biking, and running for eight-plus hours, and we will be rooting for him every step of the way.
South Shore Hospital's Orthopedic Program is continually recognized for high patient satisfaction and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has named our Hospital a Blue Distinction Center+ in Knee and Hip Replacement. Learn more about our program by visiting the Orthopedic section of our website.