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The Ensign Group Successfully Graduates Second Nursing Home From CMS Special Focus Program

POCATELLO, Idaho, Dec. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Ensign Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: ENSG) announced that its Pocatello Care & Rehabilitation Center in Pocatello, Idaho has successfully graduated from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Special Focus program.


A clinical team led by Laurie House, Director of Nursing at Pocatello Care & Rehabilitation Center, completed the complex turnaround in only eight months. The 88-bed skilled nursing facility passed its final Special Focus inspection in September 2008, and received official notice from the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare that it had graduated from the Special Focus program on November 29th. In its letter, IDHW recognized and commended "Ensign's commitment to improving the quality of services provided to the residents" of Pocatello Care & Rehabilitation Center.

Dennis Carlson, Chief Executive Officer of Pocatello Care & Rehabilitation Center, expressed appreciation for the hard work and dedication of Ms. House and her care staff. "They are amazing," he said, adding that he and the whole team were also "deeply grateful to the staff at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Area Agency on Aging for their help, support and confidence in us."

Noting the speed with which Mr. Carlson and the Pocatello Care & Rehabilitation Center team completed the turnaround, Christopher Christensen, Ensign's President and CEO, observed that, "Although problems serious enough to merit Special Focus designation do not usually get fixed overnight, we are proud of the sweeping and meaningful changes the Pocatello team made, and the urgency with which they made them." He added that the Pocatello team has been an inspiration to other Ensign teams elsewhere who are or will be executing turnaround projects.

Ensign operating subsidiaries, with 63 locations in six western states, acquire both well-performing and struggling facilities, and have long been known in the skilled nursing industry as turnaround specialists. An Ensign team previously graduated Waverly Park, a 200-bed skilled nursing facility in Tucson, Arizona, from the Special Focus program. Waverly Park was placed on Special Focus status in 2005, based largely on events that occurred prior to Ensign's acquisition of the facility from a bankrupt operator.

At present, Ensign has one remaining facility on the Special Focus list. Mt. Ogden Rehabilitation & Care Center in Ogden, Utah was placed on Special Focus status in early 2008. Unlike Pocatello, which had a much better regulatory history when it was acquired in October 2006, Mt.Ogden reached Special Focus status based on several serious incidents that occurred prior to Ensign's arrival, including the accidental drowning of a patient.

Mr. Christensen said that the Mt. Ogden clinical team, with support from Ensign resource personnel, has made significant progress toward graduating that facility from Special Focus as well. "We're not afraid of these challenging facilities," he said, noting that one of Ensign's founding objectives was to raise quality standards across the skilled nursing industry "one facility at a time." He added that the company is actively looking for additional opportunities to acquire both well-performing and struggling long-term care operations.

About The Ensign Group, Inc.

The Ensign Group, Inc.'s independent operating subsidiaries provide a broad spectrum of skilled nursing and assisted living services, physical, occupational and speech therapies, and other rehabilitative and healthcare services for both long-term residents and short-stay rehabilitation patients at 63 facilities in California, Arizona, Texas, Washington, Utah and Idaho. More information about Ensign is available at

SOURCE The Ensign Group, Inc.
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