Visitor and Caregiver Policy

The Cheshire Medical Center visitor policy has been updated effective Thursday, August 25, 2022

This policy applies to all Cheshire Medical Center locations including Walpole Family Practice, Winchester Family Practice, and satellite offices such as our Audiology, Dermatology, Ophthalmology departments and Optical Shop.

The primary goal of Cheshire's visitation policy is to assure the safety of our patients and the health care workers caring for them. We continue to closely monitor the levels of COVID-19 in our community, assessing and revising this policy as needed in response to pandemic circumstances.

Screening procedures

Everyone (patients, employees, visitors, and caregivers) are screened when entering Cheshire Medical Center and all Dartmouth Health patient care facilities. We screen for COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure. Our screening procedures may change based on current guidelines.

  • COVID-19 symptoms: Patients experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms must notify their provider before they arrive for an appointment.

We offer fresh, medical-grade masks to everyone entering Cheshire Medical Center facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Medical-grade masks must be worn at ALL times within our facilities. Learn why wearing a fresh, well-fitting medical-grade mask is important. It is also acceptable for individuals to wear their own fresh, well-fitting KN95 or N95 mask.

Visitor and caregiver policy for COVID-negative patients

Everyone MUST check in when visiting our facility. (Please see COVID-19-positive patients or patients under investigation for COVID-19 for more information.)

Adult inpatients

  • 2 visitors at a time.
  • Visitors may rotate.
  • Visitors ages 2 to 17 must be with an adult.
  • Visitors 2 and under by exception only.

Pediatric inpatients

  • 4 adults per day are allowed. This includes:
    • 2 parents, guardians, or caregivers.
    • Plus 2 extra visitors may be present at the bedside (up to 4 total).
    • The 2 visitors may rotate.
  • Only 1 parent, guardian, or caregiver may stay the night.

Labor and delivery patients

  • 3 people may be permitted to stay with the patient during active labor.
  • 3 people may spend the night during labor (cannot rotate).
  • 1 support person is allowed to stay with the patient overnight before and after birth.
  • Brothers or sisters aged 2 to 18 years old may visit if they are with an adult.
  • Children under the age of 2 years may not visit.

Adult and pediatric outpatient appointments and procedures

  • 2 people may accompany an adult or pediatric patient to an outpatient appointment or procedure.
  • We continue to encourage those who can attend outpatient appointments on their own.
  • Connecting to appointments through virtual means is available.

Emergency Department (ED) visitors

  • Adult Patients: *2 people may accompany the patient.
  • These visitors can rotate.
  • Visitors ages 2–17 must be with an adult.
  • Visitors under 2 by exception only.

Visitation for COVID-19-positive patients or patients under investigation for COVID-19

Adult inpatient and emergency department* visitors

  • On a case-by-case basis, up to 2 designated visitors may be permitted.
  • Virtual visits are available and remain the safest option.

Pediatric (child) inpatient visitors

  • Up to 2 parents/guardians may be present at the bedside of pediatric patients during their inpatient admission.

Labor and delivery/WACHU visitors

  • 1 designated partner or support person may be present at the bedside during the inpatient admission.

End-of-life patient visitors

This guideline applies to patients at risk of death within 24 hours by the doctor of record and patients receiving "comfort care only."

  • 3 visitors may be at the bedside at a time, for a total of 6 visitors.

*Please note: There may be times when our waiting area in the ED becomes too crowded to remain safe. When this occurs, anyone escorting patients may be asked to wait in their car until the patient gets to their room or the ED is less crowded.

Visitor and caregiver requirements for Cheshire Medical Center locations

An individual entering with a patient to an outpatient appointment or here to see an inpatient must follow these guidelines:

  • Anyone entering with a patient must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Stop at facility entrances and complete the COVID-19 screening.
  • Pass the COVID-19 screening process. You may not enter the building if any of the following is true:
    • You have possible COVID-19 symptoms.
    • You had a positive COVID-19 test in the last 10 days.
    • You've had a known COVID-19 exposure in the past 10 days.
    • You are not wearing an approved mask.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for outpatient appointments and inpatient visits: Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a hospital-issued medical mask given at the entrance or a well-fitting N95 or KN95.
    • The mask must be worn at all times and cover the nose and mouth.
      • This is required even when in a patient's room.
      • Do not eat or drink in a patient's room or in an outpatient waiting area.
      • If these rules are not followed, we will have to ask you to leave.
      • Learn more about masking within our facilities.
  • PPE for inpatient visits: Everyone is required to wear PPE as per the instructions of the care team. This may include more than the medical mask noted above.
  • No one unable to wear a mask may enter our buildings without a letter from a medical provider stating the individual cannot wear a mask.
  • Everyone visiting an inpatient must check in at the Nurse's Station on the inpatient unit.

Visiting hours

  • The patient's identified support person may be present at any time unless restricted due to safety or health reasons per policy.
  • Visitors need to check in with staff at the nurse's station on that floor before visiting with the patient.
  • Quiet Hours begin at 8 pm.
    • Visitation after 8 pm is at the discretion of the patient's care team.

Medical Center entrance hours

Visitors must enter through the Emergency Department when Main and West Entrances are closed.

Virtual Visits for hospitalized patients

We encourage family members and friends to use their telephone or video calls to stay in touch with inpatients. Please reference our Virtual Visits with Friends and Family in the Hospital (PDF) to connect with loved ones using a personal device. For patients who may not have a device or need help connecting, our inpatient staff can facilitate virtual visits for you.

How can you connect with patients?

  • Call or video chat on their personal phone
  • Call 603-354-5400 for the patient's room and phone number
  • Make a staff-assisted Virtual Visit. Contact the patient's health care team to arrange a Virtual Visit.
  • Send mail to this address:

    Patient's Full Name
    Cheshire Medical Center
    580 Court Street
    Keene, NH 03431

Patients with disabilities

Cheshire Medical Center will work to ensure reasonable accommodations for each patient with a disability to provide reasonable access to others they may need with them in the inpatient and outpatient settings, in a manner consistent with disability rights laws and the health and safety of patients, our health care providers, and support persons.

Access to interpreters

This Policy does not restrict patient access to interpreters. Services for patients who have limited English language proficiency or are blind, deaf, hard of hearing, or otherwise communication disabled will be maintained.

Caregivers

A caregiver is a support person whose presence is required for physical, cognitive, or other support associated with the patient's health care and/or necessary to navigate to the appointment. During times when the Medical Center requires "No Visitors," medically necessary caregivers may be an exception. No minors are permitted as caregivers.

Examples of caregivers include support for cognitively impaired or physically challenged patients, transportation assistance for sedated outpatients, and a parent or guardian for patients who are minors.