COVID-19 FAQ

What are your policies for visitors to Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) facilities, including the Notre Dame Pavilion at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester?

Our revised visitor policy is intended to assure the safety of our patients and the health care workers caring for them. At this time, we are not allowing visitors at appointments in any NCCC location. This includes visitors in the infusion areas. We can make arrangements to have a video conference on your device with a family member during your appointments if you wish. We have instructions on how to set-up a virtual visit here.

Are you screening at entrances?

As part of our effort to keep patients and staff healthy, all employees and patients will be screened at entrances to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) facilities for symptoms of COVID-19. During screening, you will be asked a few questions by staff at the door. Questions will be about any symptoms you are having. Your temperature will be taken to rule out fever, and you will be required to wear a face mask before continuing to your appointment.

With stay-at-home orders in place in my state, should I still come to my appointment?

NCCC, together with the providers from D-HH Infectious Disease, have determined that the need for chemotherapy and urgent oncology care is an exemption from the stay-at-home order. In order to minimize the number of people in the cancer center, any patient who can be seen via a telehealth visit is being contacted directly by our scheduling staff. If you do not hear from us, you should come to your appointment as scheduled.

Are all cancer patients at risk, or only those currently receiving treatment?

Patients who are currently receiving certain treatments for cancer are at higher risk than those who are in remission. Patients who are in the first year after stem cell transplantation could be at higher risk for complications if they become infected with COVID-19. Those who are beyond one year from transplantation and are still considered to be immunocompromised may have an increased risk for complications. We suggest that you consult with your provider on any concerns you may have.

Should I wear a mask?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that people wear a cloth mask in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain. The D-HH system has instituted the following guidelines:

  • All visitors and patients to D-HH patient care facilities will be required wear a mask.
  • Patients will be allowed to wear a cloth mask of their own or will be provided a cloth mask from in-stock community donations when they enter a D-HH facility.
  • At the end of their visit, patients can choose to keep the provided cloth mask or recycle it at a screening location for future cleaning and reuse.
  • Any patients exhibiting symptoms who are seeking care will be provided a medical face mask for their clinical visit.

Should I wash my hands or use sanitizer/wipes more often than others? Should I do anything special?

Everyone should wash their hands frequently. You should:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use sanitizer with a greater than 60% alcohol content.
  • Refrain from touching your face, eyes or nose.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Practice social distancing, or physical distancing – standing at least 6 feet from other people.

What should I do if a family member develops symptoms?

Please also contact your care team to notify them of this exposure.

I’m older than 65. Should I come to my appointment?

Yes, you should still come. If we are able to defer your appointment or procedure we will call you to postpone. We will also call you if your appointment can be held via telehealth from your home rather than in person in the clinic. We have guidelines for virtual visits here.

Should I be worried about getting infected with COVID-19 at NCCC?

NCCC has extensive and thorough infection control procedures, and we will do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our community. When appropriate, our staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE), and have protocols and systems in place to keep all patients, visitors and health care workers safe.

Can I get tested for COVID-19 at NCCC?

At this time, we are only testing symptomatic hospitalized patients, symptomatic health care workers and symptomatic first responders who have direct contact with patients. You should discuss your symptoms and potential contact with a known case of COVID-19 with your care team. Your provider will determine if you should be tested.

How will I be able to tell if I have COVID-19 or just the cold or flu?

It can be difficult to distinguish one viral infection from another when experiencing a mild illness, especially with no recent travel history or no contact with someone known to have COVID-19. If your symptoms worsen or you develop high fever, a deep dry cough, fatigue or shortness of breath, per the explanation in the next question, you should contact your provider to determine your testing needs.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 such as high fever, a deep dry cough, fatigue and shortness of breath), call your provider.

How can I manage my anxiety over this virus?

It is most likely that this virus will be circulating in the community for some time. However, by practicing frequent and proper hand hygiene, environmental disinfection, social distancing (including of family members if they are ill) and avoiding travel and crowded places, you can minimize the chances of contracting COVID-19. You can hear additional information around managing anxiety during this time of COVID-19 here.

Our Patient and Family Support Services team is still providing support groups and other supportive services via telephone and video conferencing. You can contact them at cancer.support@hitchcock.org to learn about resources available from the cancer center and our community partners.

If I have chemo or a BMT scheduled, should I postpone it?

If you have no symptoms and feel well, with no exposure history, the treatment can continue without interruption (as determined by your doctor). Postponing a BMT must be decided by your transplant doctor.

Where can I learn more about cancer and COVID-19?

Additional information can be found at:

American Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute

Center for Disease Control