The Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees tapped Wyoming resident George Rohrich to fill the organization's top spot.
The board made the decision Wednesday night after a three-hour, closed-door session.
Board members had said they wanted interim administrator Susan McGough to accept their offer to become the hospital's permanent chief operating officer.
"We're just all so tickled with the progress Susan has made that we want her to stay on," board President Sue Lyster said.
McGough told board members on Wednesday that she couldn't accept the position.
"This is a great place and a great hospital, it's just not the right one for me in this timeframe," she said during a news conference Thursday.
McGough moved to Craig from Oregon, where her husband works as a regional director of cardiac services.
Initially, she intended to stay through this month but now plans to remain on the job until April.
"We want to do a pretty good job so there's a seamless transition and we keep our momentum," McGough said.
Lyster said the board was waiting for McGough's decision before deciding how to move forward in filling the position.
On Wednesday, the board directed the hospital's management company, Quorum Health Care, to begin negotiations with Rohrich.
The Worland, Wyo., resident was the board's top choice from more than 70 applicants.
Rohrich has worked in hospital administration since 1977. He has spent most of his career in rural hospitals.
"He seemed like he'd be a good fit," Lyster said.
According to his references, Rohrich is good with people, energetic and straightforward. The last hospital in which Rohrich worked, Washakie Medical Center in Worland, received superior ratings. He also scored high in ratings by physicians, Lyster said.
"He has good construction experience and a strong commitment to rural health care, which is important. It really is a different environment to work in rural health care," said Bill Donatelli, regional vice-president for Quorum Health Care.
Donatelli said Quorum made an offer to Rohrich Thursday morning. He expects negotiations to conclude in a week and said Rohrich could potentially begin work in April.
If Rohrich declines the position, Quorum will begin a new search for a hospital administrator, Donatelli said.
"There is no third choice," he said.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.