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“An LPN would not be assigned in a CLC without an RN assigned in close proximity for oversight purposes,” Gowan said.

As to retaliation and the medical center’s working environment, Gowan said administration is not aware of “any correlation between reporting patient safety concerns and receiving lower performance appraisals” – a charge leveled by multiple employees.

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Management continues to lower evaluations for staff members who voice concerns about safety matters, the insider said.

Brahm, the source claims, is “actively giving bonuses” to some of the same managers who continue to use retaliatory measures to silence staff members who bring issues to light.

The facility implemented a “Speak Up” program where employees may anonymously report “just about anything,” he said.

Employees also have taken their concerns to Wisconsin Watchdog and other media outlets, often painting a different picture of the medical center than the front office has.

But internal data released by the health care facility suggests Tomah has made considerable improvement since early 2015, when investigative reports first surfaced about the facility’s opioid abuses and what a Senate committee report would describe as a “culture of fear.” The report snapshot released by the Tomah VA hospital found: The Tomah VA Medical Center’s alarming opioid over-prescription practices led to the August 2014 death of 35-year-old veteran Marine Jason Simcakoski, according to multiple federal investigations into the hospital. David Houlihan, the facility’s chief of staff, was fired in late 2015 following investigative reports and whistleblower accounts of painkiller addiction abuse and retaliation against employees who dared bring the problems to light.

Last month, a state board stripped Houlihan of his medical license and declared the physician, referred to as the “candy man,” ineligible to practice medicine in Wisconsin.

“We continue to strive to retain the best nurses we currently have on staff.” The spokesman said the Tomah VA Registered Nurse turnover rate has been steadily declining and has demonstrated a significant decline over the last fiscal year.

“Multiple strategies have been implemented based upon nursing listening sessions, nursing town hall meetings, leadership rounding, etc.

“There have been times where a shift scheduled went totally through that did not have a registered nurse assigned,” the VA employee said.

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