Your Emergency Care Visit: What to Expect

Review our updated Visitation Policy

Please review our current visitor policy before you accompany a patient to our ED. We strive to keep all patients and staff safe; all people entering our facilities must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, until further notice.

Triage: The most critically ill patients are treated first

Triage is a life-saving system that ensures patients with the most serious medical problems are treated first. This means:

  • Someone who arrives after you will be treated before you if their medical problem is more serious or life-threatening than yours.
  • You may not see critically ill patients who require priority treatment because they often arrive via ambulance.
  • If your condition is not serious, you may receive more timely care by calling Urgent Primary Care Visits, open 365 days on floor 2A.

Triage nurses ask about your medical problem and do a short exam. They also ask about your medical history, allergies, and current medications. It is very important that you tell the triage nurse everything they need to know about your immediate problem and overall health.

We do not delay life-saving treatment: If a patient is critically ill, we may need to ask the required questions of the patient’s companion or ask the patient once they are stable and able to answer.

How long will my wait time be?

Several factors determine wait times. These include:

  • How busy the department is at the time
  • How serious your condition is
  • How serious other patients’ conditions are


An emergency medicine provider gives you a thorough exam. They may order additional tests and procedures so you can get the best treatment for your problem. There may be a wait for lab tests and X-rays, and it takes time for our technicians to process and for our providers to review the results. We do our best to keep you informed on wait times.

Nurse talking with a patient

Forensic Nursing

Victims of violence require care from nurses specially trained to treat trauma, collect evidence and provide legal testimony, when necessary. Cheshire’s forensic nurses take a holistic, respectful, trauma-informed approach to caring for survivors.

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Patients with complex conditions can be treated in special rooms that offer a connection to the TeleEmergency team at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. With the simple push of a button, board-certified emergency medicine physicians and experienced emergency nurses can instantly join our team via a high-quality two-way video and monitoring system. This helps us treat patients experiencing complex life-threatening conditions like stroke fast and effectively, when every moment counts.

Next steps based on your condition


You may be discharged from the Emergency Department. We give you written instructions before you go home. It is very important that you understand and follow your discharge instructions, so please let us know if you do not understand any of the instructions or if you have any questions.

If you are given a prescription, there is a pharmacy located near the lobby of Cheshire's Main Entrance where you can pick up your medication during business hours. 

You may be asked to follow up with a specialist to make an appointment for care after you go home. The Emergency Department providers issue a referral for this follow-up appointment. You can call the number on your printed instructions or use myDH through the computer or MyChart mobile app to schedule your appointments.

Admission to the hospital

You may need to be admitted to our hospital for further treatment. Some patients are admitted to the operating room, intensive care unit, or the appropriate medical-surgical floor for continued care. Cheshire has many credentialed specialists ready to provide excellent care. 

View Cheshire’s visiting policy

In Cheshire’s Inpatient Acute Physical Rehabilitation unit, patients receive treatment from rehabilitation professionals like physical, occupational, recreational, and speech therapists. Inpatient rehabilitation helps people who have experienced major medical events like a stroke or spinal injury recover and regain the best function so they can live a full life.

How will I be billed for my visit to the Emergency Department?

Most insurance policies require a co-payment for use of emergency services. The charge you receive varies with the level of care provided. Lab tests, X-rays, medications, and other supplies generate additional charges if they are required. A separate bill may also come to you from your private physician, any consultants, and/or the radiologist if their services are necessary.

If you think you cannot pay for the emergency services you received, please tell the staff at registration so they can help you with financial assistance

Learn more about our billing and charges.