About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Speed at the expense of accuracy

Friday’s blog posting here  about the maps in the gift shop at the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center illustrates one of the downsides of online journalism.  Blogging can be immediate, but because of that, it can also be wrong.

Pins on the map in the gift shop at the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center are clustered around Fredericksburg.

The Friday post said that the push pins on the map in the gift shop show where employees live, and that pins stuck in the Roanoke and Virginia Beach areas meant that some workers have long commutes.

Nope. It turns out that the maps tell a different story, and I would have known that if I had taken the time to track down Rob Toonkel before posting. I was in a big hurry to post late Friday afternoon and made some assumptions that were incorrect. As I am constantly reminded, more reporting  always makes the story better.

Toonkel is leader of guest services for the hospital and the person responsible for the gift shop display. He came up with the idea of the maps as a way of generating traffic for the gift shop and to help build a sense of team spirit among employees.

Toonkel said today he gave each employee one push pin and told them to mark where  they’re  from. “How you define ‘from’ is up to you,” he told them.  For some employees, that meant where they were born. For others, it meant where they had spent most of their lives.

The pins show that employees hail from 38 states and 20 foreign countries. Yet more pins are clustered around Fredericksburg than anywhere else. Toonkel said he knew that was going to happen so he added a Virginia map to the display to give employees plenty of room to show exactly where they’re from.

Toonkel said the maps are a visual reminders to workers that the new hospital attracted people from Colorado and Ohio, as well as Spotsylvania and King George.

“The goal was to realize we’re all from different places, but we’re here for the same reason,” he said.  “They’re bringing their experience from everywhere, including here, to here.”