Leveraging the Powerful Links Between Work and Health

Pioneering the NP Role at Genentech

Anne Marie Tsolinas graduated from the School’s program in 1998. By 2000, she was working at the biotech giant Genentech, which at the time had only 3,000 employees. Today there are close to 12,000, plus a fair amount of contingent workers.

Anne Marie Tsolinas (left) and Helen Chaknova at Genentech (photo by Elisabeth Fall)

Anne Marie Tsolinas (left) and Helen Chaknova at Genentech (photo by Elisabeth Fall)

In Tsolinas’ early days at the company, occupational health was mostly limited to medical surveillance of employees working with hazardous materials and a minimum of on-site treatment, which was primarily provided by a consulting physician.

“We were not doing much treatment of injuries and illness, but I was an NP, as was my manager, and we were able to expand the role and demonstrate its value,” says Tsolinas. “Things that we used to send off-site for evaluation and treatment – like cumulative trauma disorders of upper extremities – we began to handle in the Campus Health Center. Shortly, we were conducting most of the medical surveillance exams as well.”

Today, Tsolinas and her team manage most of the programs within what Genentech calls its health@work department, which includes a variety of services, including the Campus Health Center. And the growth of the center prompted the company to eventually hire an independent on-site health company – Premise Health – to provide the clinical staff for the center’s expanding services. That’s where Helen Chaknova, another School alumna, entered the picture.

In 1982, Chaknova was one of the first graduates of the School’s Occupational Health Administration track. After a stint consulting in industry, she became interested in wellness programs in acute care settings and joined Premise Health three years ago. At Genentech, she runs the Campus Health Center, which today offers services that include medical surveillance, occupational injury treatment and case management, a growing volume of convenient care – which involves helping people on campus take care of their episodic illness – as well as health coaching and travel health.

“Our role is to make this a healthier place to live and work,” says Chaknova.

The presence of Chaknova and Premise has freed up time for Tsolinas and her staff to develop and manage an expanding array of other health-related programs, including health kiosks where employees can monitor their blood pressure and learn about potential health risks, consulting on new building construction and producing an evidence-based newsletter with the goal of enhancing employee health awareness.

“Providing services focused on creating a culture of health is investing in our people and shows employees how valuable they are” says Tsolinas. “It’s an important part of what makes Genentech a great place to work.”

Read the full story at scienceofcaring.ucsf.edu.