When things get stressful for employees of Martti, a nationwide medical-interpretation service with headquarters on Schrock Road in the Northland area, founder Andrew Panos will herd them into the communications center.

There, they may hear a certified interpreter say, "Pujar," which is Spanish for push, and they will realize that on the other end of the communications hookup is a woman being coached to bring a new life into the world in a word that she can comprehend.

"Hearing it and knowing it's going on at that exact moment is amazing," Panos said last week.

Martti, which stands for My Accessible Real-Time Trusted Interpreter, was founded as the Language Access Network by Panos in 2003 and is the interpretation-services component of Cloudbreak Health, an umbrella company formed several years ago when a California investment firm provided $15 million in capital, said Dori Jennings, public relations and marketing coordinator.

Panos was put on the path to the creation of Martti by a near tragedy he and his family experienced when his brother was seriously injured in a car accident while on vacation in Mexico roughly two decades ago.

"I know the frantic feeling of powerlessness that comes when you cannot help someone in an emergency simply because you don't speak the same language," Panos wrote on his LinkedIn profile.

"After my brother was tragically injured in a car accident while vacationing in Mexico, we had no way of finding out where he was, if he was even alive, or how to get him the emergency medical help he needed."

"We didn't know if we were supposed to be checking hospitals or checking morgues," Panos said in an interview.

His brother survived his injuries, although they were severe enough that at one point, he actually was pronounced dead.

"It was very impactful for our family," Panos said. "Obviously, it made an impact on my life."

Panos was working in graphics design and marketing at the time of his brother's accident.

He recalled that a chance conversation with a group of doctors who were discussing the problems they experienced treating patients with no or limited English skills, the result of central Ohio's influx of Somali refugees.

"I was blown away," Panos said. "We're right in the middle of America."

What the doctors were experiencing, coupled with what his family had been through, came together for Panos, and he started the Language Access Network.

It was slow going at first.

"We're the 15-year overnight success story," Panos said.

Ohio State University, a pioneer in offering long-distance treatment by specialists, became the service's first client, but it wasn't easy to convince other hospitals to sign on.

This was in spite of the compelling argument that an interpreter available to a doctor and patient in 60 seconds or less was better than waiting on one who had to drive across town, Jennings said.

"Communication is the No. 1 diagnostic tool a clinician has at their disposal," according to Martti's website. "Without it, anxiety of patient and provider increase precipitously, defensive medicine costs balloon, satisfaction declines and outcomes are negatively impacted."

The Language Access Network, which was renamed Martti in 2016, had only 15 clients by 2008, Panos said.

Today, Martti interpreters work with more than 850 hospitals out of seven communications centers, including the one on Schrock Road.

"We are making a difference 85,000 times a month for people who need to communicate with their provider," Panos said.

Martti offers interpreting services in more than 250 languages, nearly 60 of them available in live video, according to the website.

Panos said he insists all Martti employees -- the company has more than 400 workers on staff and contract workers -- who are in the communications centers become certified medical interpreters within six months of being hired because their work is specialized and sometimes stressful.

"You have to translate that your 6-year-old child has cancer, and it's not treatable," Jennings said.

"So interpreters are these folks who can paint a picture ... so they can explain things in a way that a patient can understand," Panos said.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1