COVID-19 Testing FAQ

You must schedule an appointment to be tested for COVID-19. Please review this important information before you schedule your appointment.

What's on this page?

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Cheshire's COVID-19 community testing program.

Based on where I live, do I meet the residency requirements to be tested through this community program?

You need to be a resident within the Monadnock Public Health Region, or currently have a Cheshire Medical Center provider to be tested at Cheshire Medical Center.

If you don't meet these requirements, here are some other locations (PDF) in New Hampshire that are offering COVID-19 tests.

When should be tested for COVID-19?

Anyone may be tested, but patients with active symptoms may be given priority. Please see the CDC's Symptoms of Coronavirus page for more up-to-date information. 

  • If you develop symptoms that may be COVID-19. Notify any close contacts during your infectious period. 
  • If you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 but do not develop symptoms, NH DHHS recommends you schedule a test 5-7 days after exposure. Some people do not experience symptoms but are still infectious and need to self-isolate instead of quarantine.

For more information, see our Exposure and Symptoms page.

What type of COVID-19 test is this? How is it given?

A molecular test (also called a PCR test, viral RNA test, or nucleic acid test)

This test uses a nasal swab to collect the specimen. A nurse will insert a 6-inch long swab (like a long Q-tip) into the cavity between the nose and mouth (nasopharyngeal swab) for 15 seconds and rotate it several times. The swab is then inserted into a container and sent to a lab for testing.

Cheshire Medical Center no longer offers antigen tests, which are less accurate than molecular tests.

Can I request an antibody test?

Primary care providers may order these tests at a patient's request. However, this test should not be considered diagnostic, of either disease or immunity. It is considered a test for past infection with the virus.  This test is not to be used to determine the ability to "return to work", nor does a positive result permit an employee to disregard universal PPE recommendations. Antibodies are not typically detectable until at least 2-4 weeks after onset of symptoms.  

Interpreting antibody test results:

Detected (Positive) - You likely* have HAD a COVID-19 infection for an unknown period of time. You may be protected from re-infection (have immunity), but this cannot be said with certainty.

Not detected (Negative) - You likely* NEVER HAD (or have not yet developed antibodies to) COVID-19 infection. You could still get COVID-19.

*These tests occasionally result in false positive and false negative resullts, or results that are not definitive, so should always be reviewed by a healthcare professional.

Do you have information for children to prepare them for the test?

To prepare your child for what to expect, we recommend watching this video from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

What are the risks and benefits of getting a test?

Potential risks include:

  • Possible discomfort or other complications that can happen during sample collection. (i.e. bloody nose during specimen collection)
  • It is possible that this test can give a positive result that is wrong (a false-positive result).
  • It is possible for this test to give a negative result that is incorrect (false negative).

Potential benefits include:

  • The results can help your healthcare provider make informed recommendations about your care.
  • The results of this test may help limit the spread of COVID-19 to your family and others in your community.

How do I schedule an appointment?

To request an appointment for COVID-19 testing, you must meet the residency requirements (you have a provider at Cheshire or live in the Monadnock Region Public Health Region).,

To request an appointment, please do ONE of the following:

  • Fill out and submit this online form. This is the best way to request an appointment.

    OR
     
  • Call Cheshire Medical Center's COVID-19 Community Testing information line at 603-354-6700 and leave a message.  For information in Spanish, call 1-833-625-9604 and a Spanish interpreter will answer and interpret calls.

You will receive a call back within 48 hours to schedule your appointment. Test results are generally available within 2-5 days through the myD-H patient portal and myChart app. If you do not already use myD-H, sign up for an account.

Who should I contact about scheduling appointments for my business, school, or other organization?

Please send an email to chepublichealth@cheshire-med.com with your request and as much detail as possible. Someone will respond to your email within 2 business days.

Where do I go if I have an appointment?

Scheduled appointments take place at the West Entrance of our main campus at 580 Court Street in Keene, NH.

What do I do when I arrive for my scheduled appointment time?

To keep everyone safe, please do the following:

  • Follow the instructions on the signs.
  • Stay in your car the entire time.
  • Keep windows shut unless you are directed to open them.
  • You are required to wear a face mask.

How much does the test cost, and what if I don’t have insurance?

The test costs $102. Cheshire will bill your insurance.

If you don’t have insurance, apply for the NH COVID-19 Testing Benefit. If you need help applying for this benefit, let us know. Nobody will be turned away based on ability to pay.

How long does it take to get my test result and how can I get this information?

Your test result will be available within 2 to 3 business days. To receive your results, check your myD-H.org account. This is the fastest way to get your result. If you need to sign up for a myD-H.org account, click here to register. We will also mail your result via USPS to your address on file.

Please do not call to find out whether your result is positive or negative. The attendants answering the phone line do not have access to this information.

  • If your result is positive, a nurse will contact you via your myD-H account (preferred, so that you can easily see written educational materials), phone, or US mail. You’ll receive information on how to manage your illness, monitor your symptoms, and protect your loved ones. Please be sure to check your myD-H messages regularly.
  • If your result is negative, you will not receive a call. You will be notified via myD-H or US mail. A negative test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or that your sample was collected too early in your infection. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and then get infected and spread the virus to others.

What should I do while waiting for my test result?

What should I do if I receive a positive test result?

What if I receive a negative test result?

  • You were probably not infected at the time your sample was collected.
  • However, that does not mean you will not get sick.
  • It is possible that you were very early in your infection when your sample was collected and that you could test positive later.
  • If you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, continue to quarantine for 10 days from the date of exposure. Learn more about quarantine and when to end it (PDF).

Other important information

Seek emergency medical care immediately if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

This initiative was financed under a contract with the State of New Hampshire, Department of Health and Human Services, with funds provided in part by the State of New Hampshire and/or such other funding sources as were available or required, e.g., the United States Department of Health and Human Services.