Our Mission

Tropical Oasis is committed to helping our clients achieve the sobriety goals of all chemical elements that alter mood and mental well-being. This is achieved by offering the best quality care, with a staff of highly qualified and dedicated professionals, in one of the most beautiful and serene places in the world. We believe that with the right to help, a person can become free from the clutches of addiction and learn to enjoy life once again.

Nicholas Russi

President & CEO

Tropical Oasis was founded in 2007 by Nicholas Russi, a recovering alcoholic/addict.  With over 16 years of clinical and operational experience in the field of addiction and metal health, Nicholas has created a treatment experience at Tropical Oasis found nowhere else in the world.  His own clinical experience is based firmly in Evidence Based programming, but at the same time incorporating a holistic and eclectic treatment model.  Throughout his career he has worked at many large and small, private and nonprofit addiction treatment corporations.  He has had the honor and privilege to consult nationally as well as internationally on many meaningful projects in the addiction and mental health field.  In an effort to create a life changing experience for his patients, Nicholas has taken all of these experiences throughout his career to create Tropical Oasis Treatment Center.  His hope is that patients who come to treatment can be free from the grips of addiction.

Valarie Patterson, LAADC

Clinical Program Manager


Valarie is a dedicated CCAPP Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, proficient in 12 core counselor functions. She has over 20 years of professional experience in social services and has specialized in alcohol and drug treatment for 15 years. She has provided an array of supervisory and supportive services for alcohol and drug residential and outpatient treatment facilities for seven years. Valarie has previously worked in the juvenile correctional facilities providing onsite individual substance abuse counseling, developing program curriculum and facilitating psycho-educational group programs for seven years. Recipient of 2008 Orange County Probation Department Chief’s Award for role in the creation of the PRIDE Program where wards are encouraged and counseled to rethink the ways they have been living in order to effect change in their lives. She has had the honor to have been part of the Puppies and Wards (PAW) Program, having been featured in the documentary “Shelter Me- Second Chances” https://shelterme.tv/episodes/episode-3/.
Throughout her career, she has held various professional titles consisting of alcohol and drug counselor, consultant, crisis team director, DUI classroom instructor, alcohol and drug studies instructor, crisis counselor, psychiatric intake coordinator, program supervisor and classified management substance abuse counselor. Additional certifications with Internationally Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) and California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP): Certified Criminal Justice Addiction Professional, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II and Breining Institute Certified Clinical Supervisor Credential. Graduating Class Valedictorian: California Paramedical and Technical College, Alcohol and Drug Counseling, 2003.

Natali Schmitz

Director of Human Recourses

Joining the HR team in 2016, Natali comes to Tropical Oasis with over 10 years experience in customer service, human resources and community outreach. She has also been active in marketing and fundraising. Natali oversees employee relations, benefits, payroll, talent acquisition and and succession planning while maximizing employee engagement and the overall employment experience. She has a passion for working in the behavioral health and substance abuse field and supplies an atmosphere of support for both the company and the staff who work here.

Dr. Steven Kogel Hughes

Resident Psychiatrist

Born in Philadelphia Pa. in 1943. Father of 8, grandfather of 13, great grandfather of 2. Studied Medicine at the University of Costa Rica and specialized in Psychiatry, graduated in 1981.  Dr. Kogel values continued education and is Currently working on thesis for PHD in Education researching the influence of compassion and spirituality on learning, health and longevity.  He Former held the position of Director of the National Institute for treatment of alcohol and drugs, IAFA.  Avid competitor of Racketball. Enjoys playing piano and flute. We are grateful and honored to have Dr. Kogel heading our psychiatric services. In addition to psychiatry, Dr. Kogel will be providing group therapy as well as individual therapy.

Vladimir Mata, MD

Medical Doctor

Dr. Vladimir Mata has practices in San Juan and Jaco, Costa Rica. He is well loved in the community, known for being kind, gentle, trustworthy, and very effective in treating his patients. Dr. Mata recieved his doctorate from The Latin American School of Medical Sciences in Cuba in 2007. He completed his residency at Holguín General University Hospital “Lenin” and Holguín Pediatric University Hospital  “Octavio de la Concepción y Pedraja.” Afterwards, Dr. Mata worked in General Medicine at Los Cocos Health Area in Limón Centro, followed by Emergency Services at Clínica Jaco and Hospital Monseñor Sanabria.

Melissa Soto


Dr. Melissa Soto is a licensed Psychologist with a degree from Fidélitas University in San José, Costa Rica and graduated in 2011. Since that time she has been working at private practices in Jacó, Parrita and Quepos.  She is specialized in Clinical Hypnosis, Emotional Rational Therapy, Eating disorders, Strategic Short Therapy, as well as various other fields.  She has helped children, adolescents, adults and couples work through through various problems.   Dr. Soto also works with different government entities as well.

David B. Green

Commercial & Strategic International Development Director

David is a proven C-level global business development director operating within the Addiction Recovery and Major Medical Surgical healthcare delivery sectors. His international experience in business operations and distribution/network channel creation & development, extends from International expatriate major medical insurance, Healthcare IT Systems, International reinsurance and Insurance Information publishing to the promotions of all medical & behavioral health service lines. Professional engagements as Commercial Director at the retention of boards & owners of International Healthcare Providers and Insurance underwriters extend to include assignments within; the United States, Central America, Caribbean, Bermuda, Australia, New Zealand, UK, UAE, Mediterranean Rim, APEC, Saudi Arabia and Canada. As CEO, COO, Commercial Director for AXA, Mutual of Omaha, RSA, BUPA International, Lloyd’s of London (underwritten products & MGU programs), he has experience as MGA, TPA, Medical Assistance, Medevac and PPA network facilitator. Recent Addiction Recovery operational experience has been gained in Canada, US, Bermuda, Australia & the Caribbean. A UK national and Canadian resident for 20 years. David has served as Commercial Director for several major JCI & CARF accredited global centers of excellence for Substance Abuse & Treatment – private residential drug rehabilitation alcohol addiction centers. He is committed to the belief that all individuals can/will become responsible for their own recovery from drugs & alcohol when given the proper environment, level and quality of encouragement and substance abuse treatment. David is married with seven children and divides his time between the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, BC, Andalucía in Spain, Australia and the UK. He is the author of the Oscar Phelps series of International Crime Fiction novels.

Michal Gottlieb, L.Ac,

Acupuncturist & Massage Therapist

Michal Gottlieb, L.Ac, is an acupuncturist and a massage therapist. She uses
acupressure and a blend of massage techniques to safely and effectively get her
patients out of pain and discomfort and back to health. Michal studied 4 years of Traditional Chinese medicine in Israel, graduated in 1999 and was trained for 3 months in a hospital in Hang Zhou, China in different departments.
Treatment Techniques: Acupressure, Moxa, Auricular therapy, Tui-na orthopedic massage, Shiatsu massage, Relaxation massage.