The only page I got during my shift was a request for a patient to receive Communion. Since I take calls from home and the hospital pays me for three hours every time I respond to a page, I'm only supposed to come in for deaths, code blues, and crises. I left the Communion request for the daytime chaplain, who is in-house.
I was reading our local news rag online this morning, and saw this article (click for link) about churches tweaking their Communion practices because of the swine flu. I've also heard of churches tweaking their methods of "passing the peace" during worship because of the swine flu (and seasonal flu) outbreak.
Reading this makes me wonder how SJ is handling the swine flu outbreak and this year's early and active flu season. Even in normal times, the congregation at SJ was-in my opinion-paranoid about Communion and germs. They refused to take Communion by intinction to "avoid germs" (instead, we had individual glasses, which drove me up the wall) and insisted that a) I be the only person to touch the bread and b) I make a big deal about sanitizing my hands before touching the bread. Seriously, listening to the conversations at PPR meetings, you'd think people were at risk of getting the Black Plague from Communion.
I'll confess, I tend to be more on the side of "protect yourself, but don't be paranoid" when it comes to contagious illnesses and germs. I receive the flu shot every year, and made sure that Nora and I both received the H1N1 shot this year (since I'm pregnant and she's only 2, we're considered "high risk" so could get it early). I cover my mouth when I cough and my nose when I sneeze, and I wash/sanitize my hands religiously. When I'm sick, I stay home. That sort of thing. However, it never occurred to me to miss church or tweak my normal habits in order to avoid getting sick (and let's be honest; in this case most people are more concerned about themselves getting sick than about infecting others).
Call me insensitive, call me careless, but I'm glad that I'm not serving a church this year because I can see myself inwardly rolling my eyes if my church leaders were to propose suspending Passing of the Peace, Communion, or even severely tweaking it. I know the flu needs to be taken seriously. I know people have died from H1N1, even healthy people. Heck, I'm in just about the highest-risk group there is (did you know that almost a quarter of pregnant women who contact H1N1 have DIED?). However, in my experience thus far, this "flu pandemic" is not a big enough deal for me to make any significant changes to my daily life.
What are your feelings on this issue? How has your congregation responded to the threat of H1N1 and the seasonal flu? How widespread is the flu in your area?