Jackie Nitschke Center debuts documentary film about its namesake

Submitted by: 11/04/2014 by Maureen Fitzgerald

The Jackie Nitschke Center in Green Bay is named in honor of the wife of Green Bay Packers great Ray Nitschke. Jackie was one of the first public figures in the Green Bay area to speak openly about her problems with alcohol, inspiring other women to seek help. In October, “Champion: The Legacy of Jackie Nitschke,” a documentary about her life, premiered at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field to an invited audience of 500.

The documentary is one of many products that have emerged from the center’s relationship with Arketype, a Green Bay marketing and design firm. Over the past several years, Arketype has helped JNC market its services to the Green Bay community and beyond.

In 2010 JNC lost county funding that had largely supported the agency, which treats many chronically addicted who are also indigent. Finding new sources of revenue through new payers and fundraising was crucial. At about the same time, Jim Rivett, owner of Arketype, was trying to help someone find treatment for drug addiction. The Jackie Nitschke Center was able to provide immediate assistance with no questions asked about ability to pay. 

“Jim was so impressed that he offered to help us with marketing,” says JNC Director Bill LaBine. Since then, Arketype has donated creative services, redone the JNC logo and website, and helped promote two benefit concerts. Arketype also came up with the idea of a filming a documentary about Jackie Nitschke.

“Green Bay is a football town and the team and its fans have a huge influence on the community,” says LaBine. “There’s a lot of pride in the team and how it helped create what we know as the NFL today.”

But alcohol has also had a strong influence on football culture and the community.

“Players become public figures, and some players and their family members turn to alcohol or other drugs for relief from the stress that comes with having celebrity status,” says LaBine.

In the documentary, friends and family members talk about Ray and Jackie Nitschke’s struggles with alcohol. Others talk about how they’ve been affected by addiction: Bart and Cherry Starr talk about losing their son to an overdose. (Bart Starr, along with Ray Nitschke, helped turn Green Bay into “TitleTown” in the 1960s.) Chester Marcol, who now works part-time as an AODA counselor, talks about being a winning kicker for the Packers in the 1970’s until a cocaine addiction ended his career. 

The Green Bay Packers contributed archival photos and videos to the documentary, along with some financial support. The team also donates to the Center’s treatment scholarship program every year.

The JNC will not profit from the documentary, which is designed as an educational tool to raise awareness about addiction. “The goal of the film is to educate families, employers, legislators, insurance companies, and the medical community about the illness of addiction, and to encourage people to talk about it and seek treatment,”  says Labine. 

The documentary will also be useful in LaBine’s discussions with third-party payers, hospital systems, and legislators. He’s invited legislators to JNC to see the film and hopes it will strengthen his case for increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for treatment for substance use disorders.

As one of the first treatment agencies in the nation to test the NIATx model of process improvement, JNC adopted the NIATx strategy of using data to monitor the effectiveness of its programs. Ten years later, the JNC team continues to collect data on multiple aspects of the operation. 

LaBine says that focus on data and participating in other NIATx initiatives has been invaluable.

“Embracing the NIATx model has allowed the Jackie Nitschke Center to not only keep our doors open but to grow and attract new sources of funding and payers,” he says. Over the years, LaBine has used data to track the agency’s admission and completion rates. This in turn has helped develop relationships within the community. LaBine points out that the documentary was made possible through support from community donors.

“The film really is a great example of community coming together to address a community issue that the community has to solve,” says LaBine. 

Copies of the film will be available for other treatment centers or community groups for showing at schools and community events. 

For more information or to request a copy of the documentary, contact Bill LaBaine at: WLaBine@jackienitschkecenter.com

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