The Rev. Deacon Carol E. Peterson, a registered nurse from St. Mark's Church in Cheyenne Wyoming, provides these tips on communicable disease prevention in our parishes:
With flu season upon us it might be helpful to review a few practices that can help to keep us all a bit healthier.
Concerning the Common Cup: While there is a theoretically a small risk of transmitting disease by using a common cup, the risk is very, very low. At St. Mark’s we use high alcohol content wine (12% or higher), which is recommended. Also the Eucharistic Ministers have been instructed in how to appropriately administer the cup to reduce contamination. If you are, might be, or were recently sick, if you have open sores in or on you mouth, or if you have low immunity due to a chronic disease, it is advisable that you only receive the wafer. The Episcopal Church believes that God is fully present in both of the communion elements; rest assured you will still receive the full grace of the Sacrament.
Sharing the Peace: Hands are a notorious source for passing along germs! During flu season you may want to carry and use your own personal hand sanitizer after passing the peace (St. Mark's has large pump bottles located at the rear of the narthex.) You may also want to use some upon entering and exiting the church.
Hand washing – hand washing – hand washing!! This is most effective if you use very warm running water, lots of soap, rub you hands together for at least 20 seconds, and then use the hand towel to turn off the taps and to open the door. Wash your hands before and after eating,after using the rest room, after blowing your nose, etc.
Other Common Sense Tips:
Those serving, as well as parishioners, should stay home if they are not well.
If you can receive the flu vaccine and haven’t already –please consider it; it’s not too late! (The vaccine takes about two weeks to provide protection).
Cough into the bend of your elbow instead of your hands.
Drink lots of water!
Practicing good health habits such as stress reduction, getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet (especially lots of fruits and vegetables) is always wise!
We try to periodically sanitize surfaces at church (e.g. door knobs, light switches, etc.) but know that flu germs can live on surfaces for up to eight hours.
The Rev. Dn. Carol E, Peterson, MS, RN, FCN (your parish nurse)