African Press International (API)

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Mr. Wilfred Saroni – one of the most successful Kenyan businessmen in the US

Posted by African Press International on April 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no source.msdiasphora
Top Kenyan businessmen in the US shuts down school
NASHUA, USA, Sunday 27th April, 2008. Sad news as one of the top Kenyan businessmen in the US shuts down Nashua nursing school, displacing 53 students. Nashua nursing school whose director Mr. Wilfred Saroni was once rewarded with one of America’s prestigious award, “The Ronald Reagan Republican Gold Medal.” lives in the US State of Massachusetts.
The institution has a staff of 67 and operates on an annual budget of more than US $ 2 million (about Kenya Shillings 150,000,000). Mr. Saronis recognition arose from his hard work and resourcefulness, through which he established a pioneering nursing college that now trains over 1,200 students per year. Wilfred Saroni, a Dracut resident who owns the institute as well as several other health-care businesses, came under scrutiny in September 2007 when employees at the Lowell-based Holden Homecare Services complained they were not getting paid, getting paid late or receiving checks that bounced. Similar complaints began coming into the state Board of Nursing last October, according to Margaret Walker, the board’s executive director.
The board requested an audit of the school’s financial statements. Saroni did not comply. “November. Nothing. December. Still nothing,” said Walker. “We told them they could not take any new students. January and February, still nothing.” Saroni attended a hearing before the nursing board on April 17 and said he was in the process of working out an agreement to sell Holden Medical Institute to Premier Education Group, a career-training organization.
Mr. Wilfred Saroni – one of the most successful Kenyan businessmen in the US
State officials have shut down a Nashua nursing school, displacing 53 students, over serious concerns about the school’s financial health. Holden Medical Institute’s Nashua campus bounced checks to instructors and failed to pay electricity, rent and the Internal Revenue Service all while collecting tuition payments, according to the New Hampshire Board of Nursing. “They weren’t able to pay for the paper to print transcripts for students,” said Margaret Walker, executive director of the nursing board. “So we didn’t know where money was going. And we still don’t.” Walker said the decision to shut down the school came at a public board meeting April 17, after Holden failed to produce legally required financial statements for the seventh consecutive month. Holden Medical Institute also operates campuses in Lowell and Worcester, Mass.
The Nashua campus at 472 Amherst St., which opened in 2005, specialized in Licensed Practical Nurse certificate programs. Walker said the nursing board is also working closely with the New Hampshire attorney general’s office to determine if any crime was committed. Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Bradley, who is handling the case, could not be reached for comment. Holden Medical Institute Director Wilfred Saroni also could not be reached for comment. A message left at his home in Dracut, Mass., was not returned.
The nursing board is making arrangements to help the displaced students complete the last four months of the one-year program, according to Walker. Certificate program credits are not transferable, but two Nashua colleges have offered to donate classroom space that current students and instructors can use to complete the coursework. The plan is to resume day and night programs using space at Rivier College and Nashua Community College, formerly known as New Hampshire Community Technical College, Walker said. Teachers will be paid out of an escrow fund created with tuition payments that students still owed to Holden.
According to former instructor Mary Heinzl, about 70 percent of the displaced students are immigrants from Africa. Saroni, the school’s director, is a native of Kenya. Heinzl said many of them are single parents or live in single-income households. English is a second language for most of them, she said. “I feel so bad for the students,” Heinzl, who left the school in December amid a shake up in leadership, said. “They have worked so hard . . . there are some really awesome students. They will make great nurses.” Heinzl said teachers were aware while she was there that the school was having financial trouble because paychecks were sometimes late and other times bounced.
The school had about seven instructors when it closed, she said. Complaints have been filed about the school with the New Hampshire Department of Labor, according to Walker. Heinzl, who still keeps in touch with some of her former students, said students were notified of the closing Monday. “They were shocked,” Heinzl said. “They worked so hard.” Tuition to Holden’s LPN program was approximately $12,000, Heinzl said.
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African Press International – api

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