Walk-In Care Clinic or ED: Where to Choose

Young provider wraps elderly female patient's wrist with gauze.

Life can throw us some painful curveballs: sprains and broken bones, cuts and bruises, infections, fevers, and flu. For problems that can’t wait a few days for an appointment with a primary care provider, many turn to Cheshire Medical Center’s Emergency Department (ED) for care. However, Cheshire’s Walk-In Care Clinic is often the best option for conditions that aren’t life-threatening.

When to go to the Walk-In Care Clinic

The Walk-In Care Clinic on Emerald St. in Keene provides attention for non-life-threatening medical problems or problems that could become worse if you wait. This includes performing X-rays and lab tests to find out what’s wrong.

Sprained your ankle while tripping over your dog? Did your 3-year-old lodge a piece of Lego in his nose? Do you think you might have food poisoning or the flu? Maybe you need a stitch or two for a small cut? If life throws problems like this at you, the highly-trained staff at the Walk-In Care Clinic can help you today, without an appointment.

Common illnesses and minor injuries

  • Common illnesses such as colds, the flu, earaches, sore throats, migraines, fever, rashes.
  • Minor injuries such as sprains, back pain, minor cuts and burns, minor broken bones, or minor eye injuries.

More convenient, less money

The Walk-In Care Clinic is open every day of the year, even holidays. Because it is part of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system, your health records will be instantly updated for you and your regular doctor through myD-H. Another benefit is that this type of “urgent care” is billed differently and usually costs less than a visit to the ED, even after insurance coverage.

How does “triage” affect my treatment and wait time?

Hospital EDs are for very serious or life-threatening problems, not common illnesses or minor injuries.

If your health problem is minor compared to a major injury, heart attack, or stroke, then the Walk-In Care Clinic may be able to treat you sooner than the ED. This is because of a life-saving system called triage. Triage assigns levels of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order in which medical staff need to treat patients.

“All Emergency Departments treat the most critically-ill patients first. We promise to never delay life-saving treatment to the best of our ability. Many of our priority patients arrive via ambulance because they are very ill, and our staff work hard to do everything possible to provide safe, appropriate care,” says Jessica Lussier, director of Emergency Services.

When to call 911

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, don’t wait! Call 911 or get to your nearest hospital emergency department. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) crews are available and EDs are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year:

  • Chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Severe burns
  • Deep cuts or bleeding that won’t stop
  • Sudden blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, or loss of coordination or balance
  • Numbness in the face, arm, or leg
  • Sudden, severe headache (not a migraine)
  • Seizures
  • High fevers
  • Any other condition you believe is life-threatening

Calling 911 means one of the local ambulance services can come to you. The EMS (Emergency Medical Service) crew can give pre-hospital care as soon as they arrive, including interventions that could save the patient’s life. Then they work hard to keep the patient safe and stable on the way to a local ED for treatment.

No matter where you go for care, be sure to bring a list of the current medications you are taking.

For more information about Cheshire's ED, learn what to expect during your emergency care visit.

You do not need an appointment to visit Cheshire’s Walk-In Care Clinic. Open 365 days a year at The Center at Colony Mill, 149 Emerald St., Keene, NH. The clinic’s hours are Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 4pm, and 10am to 2pm on holidays.