The Ensign Group has returned about $110 million in federal coronavirus relief funding after experiencing another quarter of “record-breaking results,” executives reported Thursday. 

Ensign was one of five nursing home operators targeted in an investigation by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The committee requested various kinds of information, such as ownership and organizational structure information, from the operators as part of an inquiry into their pandemic response. 

The company began returning all of its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding it received in June after “taking a hard look at our balance sheet and our liquidity, including our strong relationship with our renters and landlords, and after gaining a better understanding of our financial performance after several months of operating in a COVID environment,” CEO Barry Port said during a second-quarter earnings call.  

“These funds were meant to cover lost revenue and increased expenses tied to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. “We determined that it was not in the best interest of our organization to accept funds from rounds one, two or three of the CARES Act at this time.”

‘Strong results’

For the second-quarter in a row, Ensign achieved its highest earnings per share in history, of 78 cents — an 100% increase over the prior year quarter. The company also reported record earnings for the first quarter, as well as for the third and fourth quarters of 2019.

“The strong results came from quarter over quarter improvements in skilled mix across same store, transitioning, and newly acquired operations, cost saving initiatives, improved collections, sequestration suspension and improved Medicaid rates in certain states,” Port explained. 

He added that though the company is not being “overwhelmed by COVID-19,” the pandemic’s impact has varied by market and buildings. 

Ensign facilities have reported a total of 909 confirmed COVID-19 patients in-house. Nineteen of those providers have more than 20 coronavirus cases each, while 46 facilities have fewer than 20, and 106 of its facilities have no confirmed cases. The company has a total of 226 facilities.